If you are actively discerning a vocation to the Priesthood, Diaconate, Consecrated Life, or Marriage and you are looking for information to help in your discernment, BE SURE TO CHECK the section at the bottom of the right sidebar for the "labels" on all posts. By clicking on one of these labels it will take you to a page with all posts containing that subject. You will also find many links for suggested reading near the bottom of the right sidebar. Best wishes and be assured of my daily prayers for your discernment.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Capuchin Franciscan Friars, St. Conrad Province

Special thanks to Br. Joseph Mary, O.F.M. Cap., for sending links to the Capuchins (Ordo Fratrum Minorum Capuccinorum) of the St. Conrad Province of Mid-America.

When you get a chance, take a look at their website which has a great deal of very good information about their communities and even some great pictures like the one above (nice beards). They also have a section of pages for vocations, which will be of particular interest to anyone discerning a Franciscan vocation.

There are also several links from the home page to the Capuchin Poor Clare Nuns and Capuchin Poor Clare Vocations.

Sad Article: Catholic Church faces new crisis — Ireland is running out of Priests

Hat tip to The Cafeteria is Closed

From The Times
February 27, 2008

Ireland is running out of Priests at such a rate that their numbers will have dropped by two thirds in the next 20 years
David Sharrock, Ireland Correspondent

Ireland, a country that used to export its Catholic clergy around the world, is running out of priests at such a rate that their numbers will have dropped by two thirds in the next 20 years, leaving parishes up and down the land vacant.

The decline of Catholic Ireland, for decades the Pope’s favourite bastion of faith in Europe, has been regularly predicted, as the economic successes of the Celtic Tiger brought growing secularisation. But new figures have starkly set out the fate of the Irish priesthood if action is not taken by the Church to reverse the trend.

One-hundred and sixty priests died last year but only nine were ordained. Figures for nuns were even more dramatic, with the deaths of 228 nuns and only two taking final vows for service in religious life.

Based upon these figures The Irish Catholic newspaper predicts that the number of priests will drop from the current 4,752 to about 1,500 by 2028.

The decline in vocations is attributed to the loss of the Church’s authority after a string of sex-abuse scandals. In 1994 the Government collapsed over the mishandling of the case of a paedophile priest Brendan Smyth.

The scandals broke a dam of silence, prompting apologies from both the Church and the Government for the abuse of children and women who passed through religious institutions. An estimated €1 billion (£750,000) are being paid out in compensation to victims.

Regular church attendance, which was at 90 per cent at the start of the 1990s, has suffered a collapse, mitigated partially in recent years by the mass influx of Polish workers.

The priestly age profile is creating another dilemma because most priests are already close to normal retirement age. The average age of Irish priests is currently 61.

Religious commentators are calling on the Church authorities to convene a national synod to address the crisis. Some are even challenging the vow of celibacy as unnecessary. “The time has come for the Church in Ireland to confront this problem much more seriously,” The Irish Catholic said.

Father Eamonn Bourke, director of vocations in Dublin, said: “These latest statistics bring the problems we are facing into sharp focus.

“It is impossible to argue with statistics and the situation is very grave. For a long time people have failed to real-ise how much the decline is.” He said he was concerned that “some priests are reluctant to offer priesthood to people as a valuable way of life. It will take a long time to increase this confidence.”

David Quinn, a commentator on Irish religious affairs, told The Times: “The real problem is that the demographic has finally caught up and priests are retiring and dying at a rate of knots.

“I’d say that a majority of priests in Ireland would probably favour dropping the celibacy rule, while the bishops would be more evenly split on the issue. But vocations in Ireland were exceptionally high between 1920 and 1960, higher than in the 19th century, just as now they are so low as to be an aberration. Ireland is now the vocations blackspot of the world.

“It’s not a crisis, it’s a catastrophe and it’s happened in a generation. There used to be three priests for every parish but it’s becoming common for two priests to share three parishes. In the near future there will be just one priest for every five parishes.” Mr Quinn said that the Church had to do more to promote vocations, both in schools and at the altar.

One possible solution to the crisis was illustrated this week when a former Catholic priest became Dean of the Protestant Church of Ireland’s Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin.

The Very Rev Dermot Dunne made a point of kissing his wife, Celia, while standing on the steps of the cathedral as he took up his new office.

He is the first Dean of Christ Church since the 16th-century Reformation to have received his theological education in a Catholic seminary, St Patrick’s Maynooth.

His most illustrious predecessor in the role is the satirist and author of Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift.

“It came to a point where I felt I needed to be honest,” he said. “I could see the Church was going one way and I another. My thinking was different on areas of human sexuality, on marriage, the place of women in the Church and the question of vocation of women and the admission of women to the ordained ministry.”

Mr Dunne said he had discussed his doubts while still a Catholic priest with Dr John Magee, then his bishop.

“The difference of opinion we had was over whether there is an intrinsic connection between the vocation to celibacy and the vocation to the ordained ministry. The official view is that there is, I would hold that there isn’t. So that is why I moved outside.”

It is all so different from 1947, when the Irish Government sent a note to Pope Pius XII inviting him to relocate to Ireland in the event of a communist takeover of Italy.

The Pope replied to the Irish ambassador to the Vatican: “Ah Ireland, where else could I go but Ireland!”

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

From Vatican City To N.Y.C.: Pope To Visit Yonkers Seminary To Promote Church Vocations

From Vatican City To N.Y.C.: Pope To Visit Yonkers Seminary To Promote Church Vocations

by Shazia Khan

for NY1 News
February 26, 2008

(Emphases mine)

When Pope Benedict XVI arrives on our shores, he'll make a number of stops both in New York City and in Washington, D.C. His itinerary includes open-air masses, an address to the United Nations, and even a visit to the World Trade Center site.

But one of the most important visits he makes will be to St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers, where he will conduct a youth rally -- encouraging young people to seek vocations within the church. NY'1's Shazia Khan filed the following report on the Catholic Church's dire need to find new recruits.

As a child growing up in the Dominican Republic, Alex Diaz played "mass." Today, the 26 year old is at St. Joseph's Seminary studying to be a priest.

"That's something I really want and it's something that I really feel that the lord is calling me to do -- to serve him and to serve his people," said Diaz.

Since 1896, St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers has been ordaining priests for the Archdiocese of New York and beyond. But these days, Father Luke Sweeney, the director of vocations, says it hasn't been easy.

"Let's face it, back in the 1940s or the 1950s this place was packed," said Sweeney. "We had some classes being ordained of 35 guys. One class was even 50 guys."

This year, only five men from the seminary are expected to be ordained as parish priests. An alarming number since the Archdiocese of New York ministers to more than 400 parishes, nearly 2.5 million Roman Catholics.

Sweeney points to a number of factors driving men away from the priesthood. There is the matter of celibacy, adding, since families are smaller, parents are less inclined to support their son in fear of having no grandchildren. And, of course, there's the recent priest sex abuse scandal.

However, Sweeney believes the shift in religious values is the main reason.

"The biggest thing is probably God is being moved off the picture for everyday life, for families, for society, and without God's grace, without communion with God, and without prayer with God, it's going to be impossible to have a vocation," said Sweeney.

With scant few seminarians, the archdiocese has been stepping up its recruiting efforts through prayer and awareness. Along with more on site visits to youth organizations, schools and colleges, it recently rolled out a new campaign called NYPriest.com.

There, users can view a one-minute movie trailer called "The World Needs Heroes," which also ran in a handful of theaters. The website is chock of full of information and even answers questions like "how hard is celibacy?"

But it's Pope Benedict the XVI's visit to the seminary in April, which Sweeny sees as a saving grace.

"It's giving an opportunity to highlight the seminarians, the life that they lead and of course the preparation for priesthood, which in a way is shrouded in mystery for many, many people," said Sweeney.

But the Catholic Church hopes it doesn't remain one.

- Shazia Khan

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Benedictines of St. Vincent Archabbey

Yesterday I posted about an email I received from Fr. M. Ignatius (Cistercian Monks of Stift Heiligenkreuz). Later in the day I received an email from Fr. Fred Byrne, O.S.B., Vocations Director for the Benedictines at St. Vincent Archabbey in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Since I have posted a video about one of their monks, he was kind enough to send me the following email with a little more information about their community.

Emphases and (comments) are mine.

Dear Brad,

Thank you for your wonderful and informative vocations blog. It truly is a blessing to all young people discerning God's call to serve Him in our Holy Roman Catholic Church.

As you may know, Father Boniface Hick, O.S.B. whom you have on your blog is a monk of our house. (Fr. Boniface is in the picture to the left. If you click on his name above, you will be directed to a short video on YouTbue about him. He has a fascinating story which is well worth the read. You can read his conversion/vocations story HERE.)

St. Vincent Archabbey is the first Benedictine Monastery in the United States founded in 1846 by Archabbot Boniface Wimmer, O.S.B. Since then under the guidance of our past and present spiritual fathers (now The Rt. Rev. Archabbot Douglas Nowicki, O.S.B.) we have grown to over 170 monks making us the largest Christian Mens Monastery in the world. Our seminary has been blessed with vocations from the Archdiocese -Diocese of Atlanta, Harrisbug, Pittsburgh, just to name a few.

We also have the blessing of a wonderful faculty of monks and lay teachers including Dr. Scott Hahn who is teaching and chairing the Pope Benedict Chair of Biblical Theology and Liturgical Proclamation, St. Vincent monk Father Thomas Acklin, O.S.B. http://www.salvationhistory.com/mission/staff/fracklin.cfm, and St. Vincent monk Fr. Jaques Daly, O.S.B. who has been featured on EWTN numerous times. Recently, our Archabbey and college hosted the Rememberance of Mother Teresa event which was broadcated worldwide on EWTN.

Presently we have four wonderful Novices and God-willing we are expecting 7-9 novices this July. So as you can see, the Holy Spirit is doing some awesome things here at St. Vincent.


I have already added their website to the sidebar of this blog, but thought you might be interested in visiting Fr. Byrne's vocations blog for their community.

Catholic Blog Awards

Many thanks to those of you who have already nominated Roman Catholic Vocations for a Catholic Blog Award. However, I'm still not exactly sure how this will work. My vague understanding, according the awards website, is that you need multiple nominations to be considered in the voting for an award. Unfortunately it doesn't say how many.

I would be most grateful if those of you who haven't already nominated this blog, would consider doing so. You can click on the Catholic Blog Awards image or HERE to go to the website, register, and nominate. As I said before you may want to also nominate many of the other fine blogs that are out there. The period for nominating will end this Friday, February 29th, then the voting begins. It is my hope that this might help promote this blog more widely as an online resource of information and stories about Roman Catholic vocations. Thank you!

Franciscan Friars of the Renewal on Irish RTE Late Late Show

The Franciscan Friars of the Renewal were on the Late Late Show in Ireland last Friday night and the video has finally been uploaded onto the RTE website. Click on the picture above or HERE to watch a really good interview!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Cistercians - Stift Heiligenkreuz im Wienerwald

When I started this blog a year ago, I had no idea the readership it would take on. Just yesterday this humble vocations blog was visited by someone at the Vatican using a German language computer! No, I don't think for a minute that the Holy Father visited romancatholicvocations (although that would be pretty amazing), but somebody from the Vatican did seek out this site. One word: wow.

Then today I received an email from one of the Cistercian Monks of Stift Heiligenkreuz im Wienerwald, Austria. The good Father contacted me with a request that I correct a miss labeled picture. In a recent post I said that the following picture was of Our Holy Father and a group of Trappists:

As you've probably put together at this point, these are Cistercians not Trappists. If I might offer a weak excuse - I was tired and didn't take the time to go back and look who the order was in the picture. I had saved it because it was such a great photo, but failed to save it with the name of the order.

Regardless I was very happy that Fr. Ignatius contacted me about it. I have since had the pleasure of visiting their website. Stift Heiligenkreuz is the second-oldest Cistercian Monastery in the world. It is certainly one of the most beautiful. You should visit their site if for no other reason than to see all of the beautiful pictures, particularly of Pope Benedict's visit. Two of my favorite lines on the only English page of the website: "It is one of the most beautiful medieval monasteries of the world. In 2007 Pope Benedict XVI. visited the monastery, which is full with young vocations." You have to like that last line.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

World Youth Day Sydney 2008 Vocations Expo

From the WYD08 Website:

Brothers, Fathers & Sisters doin' it for themselves at World Youth Day - Vocations Expo welcomes 75+ applications

World Youth Day Sydney 2008 (WYD08) organisers have welcomed more than 75 applications from around the world to exhibit at the Vocations Expo, held during the WYD08 week of activities, 15 - 20 July this year.

A central component of each WYD, the Vocations Expo is a dynamic exhibition and discussion space exploring all vocational states of life including priesthood, marriage, family and the laity, and the call to holiness of religious and consecrated life.

Since applications opened in October 2007, exhibitors from as far as France, USA, New Zealand, England, Germany, Cameroon and the Philippines have demonstrated their eagerness to participate.

"We have had a wonderful response to date, with applications from various religious orders, vocations networks, tertiary educational institutions, Church agencies, Bishops Conferences and diocesan vocations offices around Australia and internationally," said Fr Danai Penollar, WYD08 Vocations Expo Project Officer.

"As the countdown to WYD08 continues, I encourage all interested groups to act now as demand is high and exhibitor spaces are being snapped up quickly."

Vocations Expo is a unique forum for young adults who are dedicated to their faith to seek information and guidance regarding the various states of vocational life in the Church.

"With more than 225,000 registered pilgrims coming to Sydney to celebrate their faith, exhibitors will have a once in a lifetime opportunity to open eyes and doors to the wonders that vocational life has to offer," said Fr Danai.

The Vocations Expo will be held in Hall 1 of the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre.

For more information and exhibitor applications visit: www.wyd2008.org/vocations

Sydney will host the 23rd World Youth Day from 15 - 20 July this year. The event will culminate with the Final Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI at Randwick Racecourse and Centennial Park, where up to 500,000 people are expected to gather.

Great New Catholic Website

OK, so it's not directly a vocations website, but CatholicsComeHome.org is worth visiting and recommending. Perhaps you might even consider emailing the link to people. Who knows, maybe there are vocations out there just waiting to be invited back to the Church.

Once you go to the site you will see two more excellent videos.

Hat tip to Fr. Tighe for letting me know about this.


From the Morris County Daily Record:

Sister Mary Catharine Perry, a cloistered nun, has written a novel called 'Amata Means Beloved,' offering a glimpse into the life of a monastery like the one she lives in. Photo by Bob Karp / Daily Record

A nun's story

By Lorraine Ash, Daily Record

Sixteen cloistered Dominican nuns in white habits and black veils lined the narrow hallway outside the refectory at the Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary in Summit. They faced each other and prayed for their benefactors in voices so practiced they seemed as one.

Precisely at noon, the nuns streamed into the refectory and before long were on a long and orderly line into the kitchen, where they filled their plates with food served family style. The menu: lentil loaf, roasted potatoes, mixed vegetables and thick homemade chocolate chip cookies.

Their friendly chatter came to a halt when they took their seats in the refectory. For 20 minutes they ate in silence while listening to part of a spirituality lecture.

Thirty-five-year-old Sister Mary Catharine Perry rose to point out the title of the lecture - "Philosophy and Religion in the West" by Professor Phillip Cary.

"Lots of time we take this opportunity to listen to a course on tape," she explained.

It's just the kind of glimpse into monastic life that Sister Mary Catharine, a novelist, wants her readers to have - an authentic one.

"Amata Means Beloved" (iUniverse, .95), her first novella, published last month, tells the story of Emily Barone from the day she enters the doors of the fictional Mater Christi Monastery, a simple white building with a cross jutting up from the roof. The plot follows Emily, destined to become Sister Maria Amata, as she acclimates to the life of a cloistered nun.

The young Emily, fresh out of college, wonders whether she is giving herself to God or running from her inability to forgive the man who murdered her brother.

The simple plot, which revolves around a new bell that arrives at Mater Christi, counterbalances the careful evolution of Emily's complex inner life and epiphanies as she adjusts to her new role. The book is a rare look into the cloistered life as told by one who lives it.

Nuns, insists Sister Mary Catharine, are as human as anyone else. Each has her strengths and weaknesses and each enters the convent with experiences and talents from her former life, which makes for interesting conversation and relationships inside the walls of the monastery. Sister Mary Catherine, who hails from Massachusetts, worked as a pharmacy assistant before entering the monastery 12 years ago.

She attended college for a little while, but not long, because she had a vocation in mind and did not want to pile up debts.

When asked why a novel by a cloistered nun has been so hard to come by, her answer came quickly.

"That's what I'd like to know," she said, eyes twinkling. "Cloistered nuns have written many books, but not novels, which are sometimes considered secular, maybe distracting. Some friars think, Nuns just don't do this. But for Dominicans, everything that's good has something of God in it and why not a novel? I like the novel form because I've always felt you can get more from a story."

She drew inspiration from the three-volume serial novel "Kristin Lavransdatter," the story of a 14th-century woman by Norwegian author and Nobel Prize winner Sigrid Undset. Sister Mary Catharine had other inspirations as well.

"I'm tired of stereotypes of monastic life," she said, citing two novels as examples - "Lying Awake" by Mark Salzman and "Mariette in Ecstasy" by Ron Hansen.

The first is about a nun who discovers her spiritual raptures and writings may be due to temporal lobe epilepsy, while the second is the story of a nun who, during ecstasy, experiences stigmata - bodily marks and sensations that correspond to the wounds Jesus endured during his crucifixion.

"Some books are written well but not true to life," Sister Mary Catharine explained. "They make nuns seem slightly infantile, and there usually are undertones of sexual repression in the story. They also make life in a monastery more dramatic than it is. There is a drama going on, but it's hidden."

The spiritual growth of her character, Sister Maria Amata, reflects just such a quiet drama, which culminates in a grounded yet joyful personal breakthrough for the fledgling nun at the end. But the life of perpetual prayer that the nuns enter is not so much about them as others.

"We are not just here for ourselves. We are here for other people in the world," Sister Mary Catharine explained. "People see us as removed from the world, but cloistered nuns are the most present in the world. God gives us empathy for the problems of others."

Often people walk in off the street to talk with one of the 16 nuns at Our Lady of the Rosary, meeting them in the parlor where several one-on-one conversations can take place simultaneously. The nun sits on one side of an opening similar in size and shape to a large window while the visitor sits on the other. People bring their personal and family problems and seek guidance, Sister Mary Catharine said. The conversations are a form of preaching, in accordance with the Dominican Order, known as the Order of Preachers and founded by St. Dominic in France in 1206.

The nuns also preach to each other, according to Sister Mary Catharine, who views her literary ability as another means to the same ends. She writes, she says, to glorify God.

Other nuns in the community helped with the production of the novel, and some like to tease about it. Sister Judith Miryam took the cover photo for the book, which shows a young novice, white veil flowing, her back to the camera, gazing out a monastery window. The novice photographed is Sister Marie Dominique.

Sister Maria of the Cross, who translates church documents, edited "Amata."

In the community room one recent day nuns darted in and out, picking up items at their individual desks, tending to daily routines.

"Is Sister Mary Catharine's novel any good?" said Sister Mary Daniel, laughing. She winked. "I don't know. I haven't had time to read it yet."

Another chimed in: "Sister Mary Catharine said she wanted to create a fictional monastery just like she would want a monastery to be."

"Our author is already cooking up another story, you know," said Sister Maria of the Cross.

The nuns do not watch news but do read a lot. Their community room, across the hall from the Choir at the center of the 1921 monastery, reflects both their devotion to each other, the church and the world.

Around the perimeter and in the middle of the room are desks and chairs, each a depository for an individual nun's personal belongings or for community property. There is a copy of the Bible and the National Geographic Atlas of the World, a stack of Yankee magazines, a box of Baci chocolates, a fax, a television and a computer to surf the Net and send and receive e-mail.

Someone's favorite blue recliner is positioned at the back window to oversee the snow-covered graveyard, filled with graves marked by simple crosses.

A large color photograph of a young Pope John Paul II looks over the room. A Time magazine special edition on the capture of Saddam Hussein is open, as if someone is in the middle of reading it.

All this is the better to fuel the nuns' knowledge of the importance of their prayers. They pray for the world all the time. Several times a day most of the nuns congregate in the Chapel and Choir for hymns and readings, a practice known as the Divine Office or Liturgy of the Hours. At least one nun is always there, 24 hours a day, so that devotion is perpetual.

"In Divine Office we are deputed to praise God for the whole world," Sister Mary Catharine said. "We have this realization of praying for people who are searching."

She, for instance, always has felt a pull to pray for alcoholics, she added. Only after she had been doing so for some time did she discover her birth father is a recovered alcoholic.

"The Lord is using my prayers," she said. "The people I pray for are unknown to me, but they're known to God. This is a mystery to me, but I love the Lord, and when you love someone, you trust them."

Life at the Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary requires most nuns to be up at 4:30 a.m. There is a lot to do, including washing and maintenance of the habits, meal preparations, prayers, cleaning and other duties. One recent day the nuns baked stollens for their close friends and benefactors.

Finding time to write on this structured schedule is not always easy, but Sister Mary Catharine found that the story of "Amata Means Beloved" poured out of her. She wrote it anytime she could.

"One of the first things you learn in a monastery is to use every minute you've got," she said. "You'd be surprised what you can do in five minutes."

She wrote while on doorbell and phone duty, interrupted, of course, by having to answer the bell and phone. Sometimes she would stay up past bedtime. For novices, lights go out at 10, but for the older, professed nuns, time is not monitored as strictly.

"It's assumed that you're a grown woman and can take care of yourself and that you know you have to be up at 4:30 a.m.," Sister Mary Catharine said. "I would sit up past 10 some nights and say, 'Oh, please, Lord, please.'"

This is the stuff of real life in a real monastery, and it's that reality that readers can expect from "Amata Means Beloved." The novella is filled with engaging scenes showing the industry of and interaction between nuns.

Nuns of the fictional Mater Christi Monastery raise sheep and weave blankets. One scene in "Amata" shows them sitting on the floor of a weaving house loft and cutting dried excrement off fleece. The conversation reveals one nun's life prior to entering the monastery.

"Can you imagine what Vogue would think if they saw Sister Regina now?" one sister says, referring to a nun who modeled before entering the Order.

Other elements of the cloistered life surface, too. For instance, nuns' parents at first tend to be furious at their daughters for their decision to be cloistered. Also, many people think the cloistered life is a waste, Sister Mary Catharine said.

"This is not an escape," she said. "When research scientists and artists separate themselves from the world, it's because they need to get more intense. Nobody thinks a scientist is escaping when he just needs to be removed from everything.

"No, this is not an escape. In fact, the biggest realization for a cloistered nun is that she cannot escape herself. Here you can't run off somewhere if you have a problem. You have to deal with things and each other. You can't even drop off the schedule of community life without special permission."

All the permission Sister Mary Catharine needed to publish her book came from her prioress.

"After Sister Mary Martin read the novel, she had some thoughts for me," Sister Mary Catharine said. "For example, she said that when my character, Sister Maria Amata, goes to the Hermitage - a hut with a dirt floor on the monastery grounds - for solitude and retreat, nothing happens. I told her that's fine.

"Everybody tends to think that when a nun goes on retreat she has this awesome experience of God. No. It may happen when she's doing the dishes."

Mundane as it is, that's how things go day in and day out in a monastery, a place demystified just a little more by a tale woven by one cloistered nun who, in articulating her experience, has made some history.

Good habits leave young nuns the wiser

Sr Niamh (right) on her profession day - summer 2007 - with companion novice, Sr M Teresa.

Good habits leave young nuns the wiser

Sunday February 24 2008

WITH so many young people obsessed with the accumulation of material wealth, the perfect body image and nabbing their dream man or woman, those who have broken ranks and decided to give it all up for life in a convent are a rare sight these days.

But two young professionals -- 26-year-old Teresa Dunphy and 31-year-old Niamh Galvin -- have done just that.

And, despite missing the odd trip to the cinema along with the obligatory popcorn, they couldn't be happier.

Teresa Dunphy gave up her job as a qualified chartered accountant, while Niamh Galvin traded in her post as a primary school teacher for life at the Monastery of St Catherine of Siena in Drogheda, Co Louth -- where silence and prayer now fill their days.

The Dominican nuns -- associated with "holy preaching", through a hidden life of prayer and sacrifice, and their motto Veritas (Latin for truth) -- continue to attract young women to their ranks.

Niamh Galvin, who hails from Beaumont in Dublin, explained, "It occurred to me to become a nun during my late teens, but I just kept putting it off. I think I needed to be ready. When I finally decided, I got mixed reactions but everyone was very supportive in the end.

"It wasn't an easy decision and my friends were concerned that I'd be happy. Some were shocked and others were a little bit sad -- but that's only natural. When a father lets his daughter go off and get married, there's always sadness there as well; it's a normal part of life."

Now, spending the rest of her days living a simple life of silence and contemplation, she explains that she doesn't miss the material world.

"I don't miss the competition and the feeling that you have to ... keep up with other people. There is a great freedom, a fantastic freedom in being away from all that. I have a sister and I told her that she could have whatever she wanted; all of my things are still at home as far as I can gather.

"I had a nice job, a nice car, a good social life, everything that I thought I needed, but I was always looking for more."

Theresa Dunphy, from Portarlington in Co Laois, said of her decision to be wed to the convent: "In this world, you can't have everything ... I know friends who have dreamed all their life of the big wedding, but I never yearned for that. All I've ever longed for is to know God better and to be closer to him."

Although she is at her happiest in the convent, there are some things she misses.

"The first Christmas here, I could have been very homesick, if I let myself, because we were a very close family and Christmas was a very big occasion in our house. But it's little things like films and the whole cinema experience that I miss -- everything right down to the popcorn."


Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Real Vocations Crisis part II

As I have said before, and continue to say, the real vocations "crisis" in the Church today is the lack of holy vocations to marriage. The divorce rate is just the most obvious sign and scandal, but the lack of true understanding of the sacramental nature of marriage is epidemic. Use of contraception is disturbingly commonplace. A crippling inability to remain committed to anything, let alone a marriage, plagues the younger generations (including mine).

Is there any doubt why this is the case? One only needs to look at the profound lack of clear and convincing teaching on these issues over the past 40 years to understand why things are the way they are today. A "tyranny of relativism" has made "tolerance" the new great commandment. In an effort to not offend anyone, and/or for fear of turning people away from the Church, we have made the mess we find ourselves in. On that note, the fear that "intolerance" might turn people away is ridiculous. How many of the young couples who go through the motions today in order to have a "church wedding" even still go to Mass after they are married? Final thought: tolerance does not equal love. As a parent tolerance of inappropriate or destructive behavior would certainly not be considered loving. Why is it considered loving in the Church?

Read the article below and think about the potential future ramifications. Yes, it could get worse.
My emphases and (comments) below.

From the Wall Street Journal

Marrying Tradition and Modernity
February 22, 2008; Page W11

Catholic young adults place great importance on marriage but have turned away from church-based ideas of how to make it work, according to a study released last week by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University.

For Catholic members of the "millennial generation," men and women born between 1982 and 1989, marriage is not to be undertaken lightly. Some 82% of these teens and 20-somethings report that they believe marriage is a lifelong commitment, compared with only 56% of Catholics age 47 to 64 -- approximately their parents' generation. Moreover, 84% of these young Catholic adults report concern that "couples don't take marriage seriously enough when divorce is easily available." By comparison, only 67% of their parents' generation agree with this statement.

At the same time, only a quarter of these young adults report that their views about marriage have been formed in significant part by their faith. Indeed, a minority think of marriage as a "vocation" or a "calling from God," and nearly half of singles say it's not important that their future spouse be Catholic. Rather, the vast majority of 18- to 25-year-olds report that their spouse must be their "soul mate," and that falling out of love is an acceptable reason for divorce. (Reread this paragraph slowly. "A minority think of marriage as a "vocation" or a "calling from God". No surprise here. Many kids today being confirmed can't even name the seven sacraments, should we really expect them to know that marriage is a vocation if we don't teach them?)

On questions about the importance of lifelong commitment in marriage, millennials are more in step with their pre-Vatican II-generation grandparents, but on questions about the influence of Catholic teachings on their views about marriage, young adults agree with their boomer parents. (This note on the importance of lifelong commiment may not bear itself out in reality. Raised in a culture that doesn't accept or embrace any concept of redemptive suffering, they tend to drop pursuits, or change jobs at the first signs of conflict or difficulty. For example talk to any high school athletic coach today to hear how differently kids approach their "commitment" to the team. This is evidenced in the statistic above that the vast majority of 18-25 year olds feel that "falling out of love" is an acceptable reason for divorce. When things get tough in a marriage, and odds are they will at some point, it may simply "feel" like the couple has fallen out of love - an acceptable reason for divorce and finding a new relationship.)

The study, based on an online survey of more than 1,000 adult Catholics, "paints a mixed picture," said Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, chairman of the Subcommittee on Marriage and Family Life of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which commissioned the report. Catholic youth may have a more conservative outlook on life than their parents' generation but also an individualized idea of who should set the rules, said Christian Smith, professor of sociology at the University of Notre Dame. "Most younger Catholics have defined their inner self as the authority, and many freely distance themselves from church practices they don't believe in."

Even the concept of "Catholic guilt" seems to have disappeared for younger generations: Catholic youth report no feelings of guilt overall, or about premarital sex or pornography, according to Mr. Smith's forthcoming article in the Review of Religious Research. (This is a real problem. There was a time when kids at least had some sense of guilt. No more and addictions are setting in quickly. Ask any priest who hears confessions on a regular basis - addiction to pornography, for both men and women, is an enormous and largely undiscussed problem.)

The Georgetown study shows that some 69% of Catholics age 18 to 25 believe "marriage is whatever two people want it to be," (what does this mean?!!) while just over half of their parents' and grandparents' generation agreed with that statement. This comes as no surprise to researchers following American family trends. With looser social norms dictating appropriate behaviors for husbands and wives, each couple -- regardless of religious affiliation -- must settle on their own rules of conduct, argues Stephanie Coontz, author of "Marriage, a History." But when more issues must be negotiated, she notes, there are more points where negotiations can break down.

While research on other Christian denominations shows similar individualized attitudes about the role of faith in everyday life, the generational differences are more pronounced among Catholics. "Catholic teenagers are the most distanced from the church authorities," reports Mr. Smith, a fact he attributes to "largely ineffective" modern Catholic religious education. (BINGO!!! As I said at the beginning. We have made this mess by failing to teach the doctrines of our faith and not expecting people to try to live them out!)

To be sure, some caution is advisable when interpreting generational differences measured at different stages of life: The millennials are just at the beginning of adulthood, so their optimistic and individual-focused opinions may change with their circumstances. (They may just be at the beginning of adulthood, but why would we expect them to change if what they are being told doesn't change? That said, I do feel their optimistic opinions may change - unfortunately the good ones.) "Some of this is useful idealism and some of it is just inexperience," said Mark Regnerus, associate professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin. Still, the cultural shift can't be ignored, Mr. Regnerus said. "We've been swamped by messages of romantic individualism. Those ideas can lead people to marry, but can lead you out of the marriage just as fast when things get tough."

Although young people often embrace traditional religious ideas to combat the influence of excessive individualism in the culture, they want to construct marriages that are more flexible than in the past, (More flexible than the past? What past are they talking about, because the past forty years has already been far to flexible.)according to Ms. Coontz. But it's a slippery slope, she says. "Once you start tinkering with the kind of set-in-stone beliefs that used to keep people in the same marriages and at the same jobs for most of their lives, where do you draw the line?"

Ms. Whelan is the author of "Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women."

Video of Nashville Dominican Sisters

I posted on this video before, but I couldn't get it to embed at the time. Enjoy.

Hat tip to the Anchoress.



Clementine Hall
Saturday, 18 February 2006

Dear Roman Deacons,

I am particularly glad to meet you today on the 25th anniversary of the re-establishment of the permanent diaconate in the Diocese of Rome. I greet with affection the Cardinal Vicar, whom I thank for his words on behalf of you all. I also greet Bishop Vincenzo Apicella, until now in charge of the Diocesan Centre for the Permanent Diaconate, and Mons. Francesco Peracchi, Delegate of the Cardinal Vicar who has supervised your formation for years. I offer my most cordial welcome to each one of you and to your families.

In a famous passage from his Letter to the Philippians, the Apostle Paul says that Christ "emptied himself, taking the form of a servant" (2: 7). He, Christ, is the example at which to look. In the Gospel, he told his disciples he had come "not to be served but to serve" (cf. Mt 20: 28). In particular, during the Last Supper, after having once again explained to the Apostles that he was among them "as one who serves" (Lk 22: 27), he made the humble gesture of washing the feet of the Twelve, a duty of slaves, setting an example so that his disciples might imitate him in service and in mutual love.

Union with Christ, to be cultivated through prayer, sacramental life and in particular, Eucharistic adoration, is of the greatest importance to your ministry, if it is truly to testify to God's love. Indeed, as I wrote in my Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, "Love can be "commanded' because it has first been given" (n. 14).

Dear deacons, accept with joy and gratitude the love the Lord feels for you and pours out in your lives, and generously give to people what you have received as a free gift. The Church of Rome has a long tradition of service to the city's poor. In these years new forms of poverty have emerged.

Indeed, many people have lost the meaning of life and do not possess a truth upon which to build their existence; a great many young people ask to meet men and women who can listen to and advise them in life's difficulties. Beside material poverty, we also find spiritual and cultural poverty.

Our Diocese, aware that the encounter with Christ, "gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction" (ibid., n. 1) is devoting special attention to the topic of the transmission of the faith.

Dear deacons, I am grateful to you for the services you carry out with great generosity in many parish communities of Rome, dedicating yourselves in particular to the ministries of Baptism and the family. By teaching Christ's Gospel, a faculty conferred upon you by the Bishop on the day of your ordination, you help parents who ask for Baptism for their children to reflect more deeply on the mystery of the divine life that has been given to us, and that of the Church, the great family of God.

Meanwhile, you also proclaim the truth about human love to engaged couples who desire to celebrate the sacrament of marriage, explaining that "marriage based on exclusive and definitive love becomes the icon of the relationship between God and his people and vice versa" (ibid., n. 11).

Many of you work in offices, hospitals and schools: in these contexts you are called to be servants of the Truth. By proclaiming the Gospel, you will be able to convey the Word that can illumine and give meaning to human work, to the suffering of the sick, and you will help the new generations to discover the beauty of the Christian faith.

Thus you will be deacons of the liberating Truth, and you will lead the inhabitants of this city to encounter Jesus Christ.

Welcoming the Redeemer into their lives is a source of deep joy for human beings, a joy that can bring peace even in moments of trial. Therefore, be servants of the Truth in order to be messengers of the joy that God desires to give to every human being.

However, it is not enough to proclaim the faith with words alone for, as the Apostle James recalls, "faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead" (Jas 2: 17). Thus, it is necessary to back up the proclamation of the Gospel with a practical witness of charity, so that "for the Church, charity is not a kind of welfare activity... but is a part of her nature, an indispensable expression of her very being" (Deus Caritas Est, n. 25).

The practice of charity has been part of the diaconal ministry from the outset: the "seven" of which the Acts of the Apostles speak were chosen "to serve at tables".

You, who belong to the Church of Rome, are the heirs of a long tradition, of which the Deacon Lawrence is a singularly fine and luminous example. Many of the poor who come knocking at the doors of parish communities to ask for the help they need to get through moments of serious difficulty often come from countries very far from Italy.

Welcome these brothers and sisters with great warmth and willingness, and do all you can to help them in their need, always remembering the Lord's words: "As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me" (Mt 25: 40).

I express my gratitude to those of you who are employed in this silent and daily witness of charity. Indeed, through your service, the poor realize that they too belong to that great family of God's children: the Church.

Dear Roman deacons, by living and witnessing to God's infinite love, may you always be, in your ministry, at the service of building the Church as communion. In your work you are sustained by the affection and prayer of your families. Your vocation is a special grace for your family life, which in this way is called to be ever more open to the will of the Lord and to the needs of the Church. May the Lord reward the availability with which your wives and children accompany you in your service to the entire ecclesial community.

May Mary, the humble handmaid of the Lord who gave the Saviour to the world, and the Deacon Lawrence who loved the Lord to the point of giving up his life for him, always accompany you with their intercession. With these sentiments, I wholeheartedly impart to each one of you the Apostolic Blessing, which I gladly extend to all your loved ones and to everyone you meet in your ministry.
Note: In the picture above, Our Holy Father is wearing a pontifical dalmatic(worn by Bishops under their chausable). The dalmatic is the vestiture proper to the Diaconate (a Bishop is always a Deacon by virtue of his ordination to the Diaconate), and is very appropriate in this element of the Holy Thursday Mass as Pope Benedict makes present the diakonia of Christ in the washing of the feet.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration Go Back to France

The following post was written by A Simple Sinner over at Per Christum:

You can read all about it here: http://www.olamshrine.com/Troyes/

Not bad for a girl from Canton, Ohio! Then again, you should NEVER underestimate the resolve of Ohio-bred Catholics. To do otherwise is just foolish.

Yes, Americans are now sending back missionaries of a sort to Europe. The sisters in France now, represent the rebuilding of their order, where their order was established.

People need to remember that Mother Angelica founded EWTN, in the heart of the deep South, in a diocese that is located in a place that is 2% Catholic, out of a "studio" built by cement blocks intended to be a garage. Not a very hopeful begining where one would expect success.

They also need to remember that while she built EWTN from that humble begining, at the same time the USCCB was attempting to create a Catholic network beamed by sattelite to places that had a sattelite dish - a very hopeful begining, with their money and clout, where one would expect success.

They utterly and unequivicobly failed - no two ways about it. She has been an unqualified success.

No word just yet as to the future of EWTN en français... but I would expect it to happen sooner rather than later.

I know it strains my charity a bit, but every time dissidents wince at the mention of Mother A's name, I just curl my toes.

Carthusians - St. Hugh's Charterhouse/Parkminster

If you have not had the pleasure of visiting the website for the Carthusians at St. Hugh's Charterhouse, you ought to take the time for a tour. Turn up your sound and enjoy the visit.

From the page on the "solitary life" of a Carthusian:

“Jesus was lead by the Spirit in the wilderness”
(Lk 4:1)

At the centre of Carthusian life is the hermitage. The community life brings together a group of hermits. It is in solitude that the heart is deepened and inhabited. The hermitage is a place above all of communion with God and, paradoxically, with man. The monk is “never less alone than when alone.” Little by little his heart will be is enlarged to the dimensions of Christ’s love encompassing everything and every person in heaven and on earth. His cell, as it were, has “glass walls”. Apart from all, to all we are united.

The main room of the hermitage is the cubiculum where the monk prays, studies, eats and sleeps. It is significant that he enters it by passing through an antechamber called the Ave Maria. It is through Mary that he enters into the tent of meeting with the Lord. Equally the offices he prays in cell are always preceded by a prayer to Our Lady, the premier patron of the Carthusian Order. Her FIAT (yes) to the action of the Spirit is the model of contemplative prayer.

“Our principal endeavour and goal is to devote ourselves to the silence and solitude of cell. This is holy ground, a place where, as a man with his friend, the Lord and his servant often speak together; there is the faithful soul frequently united with the Word of God; there is the bride made one with her spouse; there is earth joined to heaven, the divine to the human. The journey, however, is long, and the way dry and barren, that must be travelled to attain the fount of water, the land of promise.”
(Statutes, 4.1)

Watch and pray”
(Mk 14:38)

The monk’s day is structured by the liturgical day-hours, prayer of the Church, which he celebrates every couple of hours in his oratory. It is filled by simple activities all designed to help him to live in the presence of God, to let God in by all the receptive capacities he has endowed us with.

“The longer the monk lives in cell, the more gladly will he do so, as long as he occupies himself in it usefully and in an orderly manner, reading, writing, reciting psalms, praying, meditating, contemplating and working. Let him make a practice of resorting, from time to time, to a tranquil listening of the heart that allows God to enter through all its doors and passages.” (Statutes, 4.2)

Physical and artisan work in cell is an important element of balance and will occupy at least two hours each day. The garden allows time to be spent in the open and gives access to that space of sky that is one’s own.

Silence is the air the solitary breaths. The Fathers called it “the language of the world to come”. From being an exterior discipline it is gradually interiorised, a mystery of awareness and communion with the Real that so surpasses our busy words and concepts.

Here is Truth knocking at our door, speaking of his Love.

“The fruit that silence brings is known to him who has experienced it. In the early stages of our Carthusian life we may find silence a burden; however, if we are faithful, there will gradually be born within us of our silence itself something, that will draw us on to still greater silence.” (Statutes, 4.3) Ultimately our silence becomes Word, the darkness of faith is itself the Light.

The goal of the solitary is constant prayer, that pure prayer which is the prayer of the Spirit of Christ in us: “Abba, Father. Hallowed be thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven...”

“God has led us into solitude to speak to our heart. Let our heart then be a living altar from which there constantly ascends before God pure prayer, with which all our acts should be imbued.”
(Statutes, 4.11)




Vatican Basilica
Saturday, 2 February 2008

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am very pleased to meet you on the occasion of the World Day of Consecrated Life, a traditional gathering whose significance is enhanced by the liturgical context of the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. I thank Cardinal Franc Rodé, who has celebrated the Eucharist for you, and with him the Secretary and the other collaborators of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. With great affection I greet the Superiors General present and all of you who form this unique assembly, an expression of the varied richness of the Consecrated Life in the Church.

In his account of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, at least three times the Evangelist Luke emphasizes that Mary and Joseph acted in accordance with "the Law of the Lord" (cf. Lk 2: 22, 23, 39), moreover they always appear to be listening attentively to the Word of God. This attitude is an eloquent example for you, men and women religious; and for you, members of Secular Institutes and of other forms of Consecrated Life. The next Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will be dedicated to The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church: dear brothers and sisters, I ask you to make your contribution to this ecclesial commitment, witnessing to the importance, especially for those who like you, the Lord calls to a more intimate "sequela", of placing the Word of God at the centre of all things. In fact, the Consecrated Life is rooted in the Gospel. Down the centuries, the Gospel - as it were, its supreme rule - has continued to inspire it and the Consecrated Life is called to refer constantly to the Gospel, to remain alive and fertile, bearing fruit for the salvation of souls.

At the root of the different expressions of Consecrated Life there is always a strong Gospel inspiration. I think of St Anthony Abbot who was moved by listening to Christ's words: "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me" (Mt 19: 21) (cf. Vita Antonii, 2, 4). Anthony listened to these words as if they were addressed to him personally by the Lord. St Francis of Assisi in his turn affirmed that it was God who revealed to him that he should live according to the form of the holy Gospel (Testament, 17; Franciscan Omnibus 116). "Francis", wrote Thomas of Celano, "who heard that Christ's disciples were supposed to possess neither gold, nor silver, nor money, nor purse; were to have neither bread nor staff, were to have neither shoes nor two tunics... rejoicing in the Holy Spirit said: "This is what I want! This is what I ask! This is what I want to do from the bottom of my heart!'" (I Celano 83; Franciscan Omnibus 670, 672).

The Instruction Starting Afresh from Christ recalls: "It was the Holy Spirit who sparked the Word of God with new light for the Founders and Foundresses. Every charism and every Rule springs from it and seeks to be an expression of it" (n. 24). And indeed, the Holy Spirit attracts some people to live the Gospel in a radical way and translate it into a style of more generous following. So it is that a work, a religious family, is born which with its very presence becomes in turn a living "exegisis" of the Word of God. The Second Vatican Council says that the succession of charisms in the Consecrated Life can therefore be read as an unfolding of Christ down the ages, as a living Gospel that is actualized in ever new forms (cf. Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, n. 46). The mystery of Christ is reflected in the works of Foundresses and Founders, a word of his, an illuminating ray of his radiant Face, the splendour of the Father (cf. Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Vita Consecrata, n. 16).

In the course of the centuries the proposal of the following of Christ without compromise, as it is presented to us in the Gospel, has therefore constituted the ultimate and supreme rule for religious life (cf. Perfectae Caritatis, n. 2). In his Rule St Benedict refers to Scripture as the "most exact rule of human life" (n. 73: 2-5). St Dominic, whose words and works proclaimed him a man of the Gospel at all times (cf. Libellus de Principiis Ordinis Praedicatorum, 104: in P. Lippini, San Domenico visto dai suoi contemporanei, Ed. Studio Dom., Bologna, 1982, 110) desired his brother preachers also to be "men of the Gospel" (First Constitutions or Consuetudines, 31). St Clare of Assisi imitated Francis' experience to the full: "The form of life of the Order of the Poor Sisters", she wrote, "is this: to observe the Holy Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rule, I, 1-2; Franciscan Omnibus, n. 2750). St Vincent Pallotti said: "Since the life of Jesus Christ is the fundamental rule of our small Congregation... we must aim at what is most perfect always and in everything" (cf. Complete Works, II, 541-546; VIII, 63, 67, 253, 254, 466). And St Luigi Orione wrote: "Our first Rule and life is to observe the holy Gospel, in great humility and in loving sweetness and on fire with God" (Letters of Don Orione, Rome, 1969, Vol. II, 278).

This rich tradition attests that Consecrated Life is "deeply rooted in the example and teaching of Christ the Lord" (Vita Consecrata, n. 1) and can be compared to "a plant with many branches which sinks its roots into the Gospel and brings forth abundant fruit in every season of the Church's life" (ibid., n. 5). Its mission is to recall that all Christians are brought together by the Word, to live of the Word and to remain under its lordship. It is therefore the special duty of men and women religious "to remind the baptized of the fundamental values of the Gospel" (Vita Consecrata, n. 33). By so doing their witness imbues the Church with "a much-needed incentive towards ever greater fidelity to the Gospel" (ibid., n. 3) and indeed, we might say, is an "eloquent, albeit often silent, proclamation of the Gospel" (ibid., n. 25). This is why, in my two Encyclicals as on other occasions, I have not failed to cite the example set by Saints and Blesseds belonging to Institutes of Consecrated Life.

Dear brothers and sisters, nourish your day with prayer, meditation and listening to the Word of God. May you, who are familiar with the ancient practice of lectio divina, help the faithful to appreciate it in their daily lives too. And may you know how to express what the Word suggests, letting yourself be formed by it so that you bring forth abundant fruit, like a seed that has fallen into good soil. Thus, you will be ever docile to the Spirit and you will grow in union with God, you will cultivate fraternal communion among yourselves and will be ready to serve your brethren generously, especially those in need. May people see your good works, a fruit of the Word of God that lives in you, and glorify your Heavenly Father (cf. Mt 5: 16)! In entrusting these reflections to you, I thank you for the precious service you render to the Church and, as I invoke the protection of Mary and of the Saints and Blesseds, Founders of your Institutes, I wholeheartedly impart the Apostolic Blessing to you and to your respective religious families, with a special thought for the young men and women in formation and for your brothers and sisters who are sick, elderly or in difficulty. To all, I assure you of my remembrance in prayer.

Parents should help young people respond to their vocation, says Spanish cardinal

Seville, Feb 21, 2008 / 11:32 pm (CNA).- In a pastoral letter published for Seminary Day 2008, the Archbishop of Sevilla, Cardinal Carlos Amigo Vallejo, said the entire ecclesial community should “help” God so that young people called to the priesthood would respond to their vocation.

“When we speak of the Seminary,” the cardinal wrote, “we should not only consider it the place of formation for seminarians, but also as a place that belongs to us all, and that we must always consider as a personal duty.”

The cardinal explained that the new candidates preparing to be priests “are also our responsibility. We must ‘help’ God so that his call may find an answer in the hearts of men.”

Therefore, he continued, in order to launch an “enthusiastic and effective vocations campaign,” we need to begin by “talking to God and tell him of the need his Church has for priests. Pray to him and trust that his help will not falter,” the cardinal stressed.

“Then, we should talk about God to families and young people and tell them what the Lord wants and what the Church needs: priests who serve the community. May there be young people willing to be these kinds of servants,” he added.

“The Lord continues to inspire the hearts of young people with the desire to serve Jesus Christ and his Church,” the cardinal continued, but often times they are fearful of making a “generous and brave decision” to “take the path towards the priesthood.”

Therefore, he said, “let us draw young people close to Christ, let us put them at his side and let them see the face of the Lord. Everything else will be added besides.”

“The family is where, with the support of the parents, the call to the priesthood can be best heard. The family is the school of the highest ideals. It is also the school of the vocation to the priesthood. May parents remind their children that if Jesus calls them, they should not be afraid,” Cardinal Amigo said.

“We hope to have your help to maintain the Seminary, but above all, to have your prayers imploring the Lord, Father and Shepherd of our Church, to grant us the vocations that we need,” he wrote in conclusion.

Permanent Deacons and the Extraordinary Form of the Mass

Fr. Zuhlsdorf and Shawn Tribe have both posted about an inquiry that was sent to the PCED (Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei) in regards to the use of Permanent Deacons in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. Below are their posts respectively:

PCED clarifies service of deacons in the TLM
CATEGORY: SESSIUNCULUM — Fr. John Zuhlsdorf @ 8:09 am

Since Summorum Pontificum went into effect, questions about the older, pre-Conciliar form of Mass have, as was inevitable, begun to surface.

The Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" (PCED) is, at this time, the clearing house for these questions, since the Commission has competence in all things concerning the older liturgy.

I received via e-mail a copy of a letter someone received from the PCED. A question was raised about the service of deacons for the older forms of liturgy.

Every once in a while questions pop upo about deacons ordained with the newer books and the older form of Mass, and also about the service of permanent deacons. For example, some people question if men ordained as deacons with the newer book De ordinatione, that is, who are not ordained with the older form of the Pontificale Romanum as deacons or subdeacons, can function as sacred ministers in the older Mass. In a nutshell: not ordained with old book – can’t be sacred minister.

I contend that a deacon is a deacon is a deacon. Men who were ordained with older books are no more deacons than men ordained with the newer books.

Similarly, some people think that permanent deacons are somehow a lesser sort of deacon and therefore cannot function as a sacred minister in the older form of Mass. I respond again: a deacon is a deacons is a deacon.

Now we let us see the business part of text of the response sent by the PCED forwarded to me with my emphases.

The Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, just as the Motu Proprio Ecclesia Dei, presupposes that any deacons, transitional or permanent, may function as deacons in the Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal, provided, of course, that they are familiar with the rites and can function with sufficient ease. The local Ordinary can not impede a deacon in good standing from functioning as a deacon in the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite provided that the deacon is qualified.

With prayerful wishes I remain

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Rev. Msgr. Camille Perl

First, this letter clarifies that the ability of the deacon to serve does not depend on which book was used to ordain him. Thus, men ordained with the newer book can serve as sacred ministers with the older form.

Second, it makes no difference if a man is a permanent deacon or a transitional deacon. A "transitional" deacon usually identifies a man promoted to the holy order of the diaconate as a stage before his being ordained a priest. So, these are usually seminarians in the last stages of their formation. The point here is that a permanent deacons and transitional deacons are equally deacons. This may seem like a point to simple to need clarification, but it does come up.

Third, note the statement that the "local Ordinary" (usually the local bishop) can’t "impede" a deacon in good standing from functioning as a deacon in the extraordinary form. This would have an impact on seminarian transitional deacons. The idea is this: if a deacon is in good standing, he can function as a deacon in his rite. Men ordained for the Roman Rite can function in their Roman Rite. The Roman Rite has two forms.

Bishops cannot tell their seminarian deacons who are in good standing that they can serve in the ordinary form but can’t serve in the extraordinary form. If you can serve in one, you can serve in the other, provided you know what to do.

What I find interesting about this is that during the rite of ordination of a deacon, the ordaining bishop explicitly asks someone speaking on behalf of those responsible for the formation of the deacons whether or not he knows they are worthy of ordination. That worthiness would refer not only to their reputations and moral life, but also their concrete training.

If a man is going to be ordained for the Roman Rite, should not knowledge of the older form of the Rite be included in the formation of men to be ordained deacons, transitional or permanent? If someone responsible for the training of deacons is going to answer that question about the worthiness of the men presented to the bishop for ordination, should he not know they were prepared for the celebration of the Roman Rite?

and this from Shawn Tribe on New Liturgical Movement:

One of our readers writes in with regard to a query they sent to the Ecclesia Dei Commission about permanent deacons fulfilling liturgical functions in the usus antiquior. This is a question we have seen come up from time to time on the NLM.Here is the response Msgr. Camille Perl apparently gave to this question:

The Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, just as the Motu Proprio Ecclesia Dei, presupposes that any deacons, transitional or permanent, may function as deacons in the Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal, provided, of course, that they are familiar with the rites and can function with sufficient ease.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

On Disobedience and Being Labeled Conservative Among Other Things

The entire post below was written by Fr. John Trigilio's on his blog The Black Biretta. Fr. Trigilio is the President of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, and is a regular on EWTN. He is also a co-author of the very good "Catholicism for Dummies". The picture shows Fr. Trigilio on the far right presenting the book to Our Holy Father.

Cardinal complains of worldly values in Church
(ANSA) - Vatican City, February 14 -

A top Vatican cardinal complained on Thursday that Catholic priests are becoming worldlier, less obedient and increasingly reluctant to wear a cassock.

Absorbing the values of western society, priests are also less and less interested in prayer and community living and more interested in personal freedom, said Cardinal Franc Rode' in a conversation with ANSA.

''A drift towards bourgeois values and moral relativism are the two great dangers that weaken religious life,'' said Rode', who heads the Vatican department which governs monks, nuns and priests not attached to parishes.

The often-cited fall in vocations to the priesthood was actually not the main worry, the Slovenian prelate continued, noting that in 2006 vocations fell only 0.7%

''The biggest problem today is the climate of secularisation present not only in western society but also within the Church itself,'' he said. Without citing any names or specific episodes, Rode' listed a number of ways in which this change was visible among priests and members of religious communities.

They were: ''Freedom without constraints, a weak sense of the family, a worldly spirit, low visibility of religious clothing, a devaluation of prayer, insufficient community life and a weak sense of obedience''.

Despite the decline in standards, many young people were still attracted to the contemplative life of the monk or nun in an isolated community, Rode' said

''They are attracted because it is a radical life choice,'' he said.

Priests are disobedient because they were TAUGHT to be so, either in the seminary or in the diocese. All too often, theological dissent and liturgical abuse are tolerated if not endorsed in certain seminaries. Disobedience to the Magisterium and disregard for liturgical rubrics as found in the Roman Missal only leads to disobedience in other areas. Why should we expect clergy to obey their bishops and respect their pastors when they were trained by dissident theologians? A posteriori learning, obviously. When your superiors show contempt and disdain for their superiors and openly defy their rules and regulations, you learn and imitate that same behavior.

Many of us were persecuted for wearing a cassock, in the seminay and then in the rectory. Wordliness was experienced in the seminary, then in the rectory. Simple, humble and modest lifestyle was considered 'too pious'

After defending the Roman Pontiff and Magisterium in the seminary, many of us found we had to do it all over again in the parish. You expected some of the faithful to have been indoctrinated and brainwashed by the dissidents who flourished after the public repudiation of Humanae Vitae by Charles Curran, et al. What you did not expect was the cold shoulder if not open hostility experienced from your own diocesan colleagues. Peers in the local presbyterate are sometimes as dissident and disobedient as some of the radical faculty members from seminary days.

Sadly, in some dioceses, the priests and even chancery personnel who defy papal authority and who disregard liturgical norms and who contradict most of the catechism, are often given no reprimand. In fact, some of them are championed as avant garde progressives and get appointments to diocesan councils, committees, etc. Given almost guru status, these micreants often tell young clergy 'don't be too rigid or else you will be labeled a conservative.' Wearing a cassock in the rectory, using a chalice veil and burse at Mass, wearing a biretta at Stations of the Cross, wearing a cape at the cemetery, wearing cassock and surplice rather than an alb at a liturgical service outside Mass, ... these are considered omens and portents of a CONSERVATIVE. Pastors and diocesan officials cringe. If he has a Latin breviary, he will inevitably want to celebrate the TLM!!! Even the Novus Ordo in Latin and giving blessings in Latin are still considered taboo in some places. The sad reality is that the good guys never imposed their opinions or taste on others, whereas the radical left always wants to prevent a legitimate exercise of a valid option IF they themselves do not prefer it. Wearing a cassock is a matter of choice (DE GUSTIBUS NON DISPUTANDUM EST) If I choose to wear mine, it is my preference where and when (within reason and in accord with canon law). If my fellow clergy prefer to wear simple clerical garb (roman collar & suit), it does not bother me. However, my wearing a cassock bothers some priests. Wear french cuff under your cassock and they accuse you of being a closet Legionnaire of Christ or Opus Dei. Wear an expensive colored silk shirt and you are considered 'balanced.' The pathetic thing of it all is that the false doctrines and liturgical abuses being proliferated on the People of God often get ignored for a witch hunt to uncover those clerics who like to wear more traditional attire..

LEX ORANDI, LEX CREDENDI, LEX AGENDI If a priest is exposed and taught to celebrate the Divine Liturgy with reverence and to do it faithfully according to the rubrics, then he will do that in his parish. When he sees liturgical abuse in the seminary, he may imitate that in the parish. Defying liturgical law only inspires one to deny or distort doctrine since what we believe is intimately connected to how we worship. Reverence for the Mass, especially the Most Blessed Sacrament, is the backbone to believing in the dogma of the Real Presence. Disregard for the rules in the Sacramentary will entice one to ignore the Catechism since they both come from the same authority.

If a priest is trained to be disobedient in liturgical matters and/or is taught dissident heterodox theology, then he will infect his parishes where he is assigned unless he is able to recognize the contagion when it first appears. Opus Dei saved my vocation and a plethora of many others when they had an annual seminar for seminarians the week after Easter. Guys from around the country would gather at Arnold Hall retreat center to listen to Fr. George Rutler, Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR, Msgr. Wm. Smith, Dr. Janet Smith, Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete, Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz, Archbisop Raymond Burke, et al. We got more orthodox theology and liturgy in one week than in an entire year of seminary.

Unfortunately, even when men are sent to solid, orthodox seminaries, they may be sent after ordination to a very liberal parish run by a heterodox pastor who has general confession, lets non-ordained preach at Mass, insists that the faithful stand during the Eucharistic Prayer, and sits in his chair while Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion distribute the Blessed Sacrament. This same pastor will never preach against abortion, euthanasia, same-sex unions, contraception, or premarital fornication. He will, however, tell people that Jesus did not multiply the loaves of bread and two fish to feed five thousand, rather that He was able to get everyone to SHARE what they already had in their backpacks. This pastor who dislikes being called "Father" and prefers to be known as "Scott" rarely wears his roman collar and often ad libs prayers in the Mass.

A newly ordained gets sent there for his first 3 years of priesthood. Who wins and who loses? Say anything and they label you a troublemaker. Be faithful to the Church results in you disobeying the pastor (who in reality is disobeying Holy Mother Church) Once identified as someone leaning to the right, all your next assignments will be in liberal parishes with liberal pastors to help 'deprogram' you and make you less 'rigid' so you can be 'pastoral' rather than 'orthodox.'

We absolutely NEED good, solid and totally orthodox seminaries (and close those that are not). Our bishops need to keep an eye not only on seminary formation but also continuing formation of the clergy. Annual worshops and seminars (like those currently sponsored by Opus Dei and the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy) help priests of all ages at all stages to maintain their orthodoxy and to foster a pious and healthy spiritual life. Things have been improving with recent episcopal assignments and overhauls of some seminaries, yet there is still a lot to be done.
Too many good priests get DISILLUSIONED and then DISCOURAGED when heterodox colleagues get diocesan positions, promotions and honors while orthodox men, loyal to Rome and reverent in their Masses are ignored, ostracized and often villified. Worse yet is when a bishop or diocese places the highest priority on fiscal health of a parish over the spiritual health. Saving souls should be the PRIME DIRECTIVE, not saving dollars and cents. Teaching the TRUTH is what priests and deacons are ordained to do, rather than acting like corporate business managers who spend more time on the budget than on the catechism.

I noticed early on that the priests who joyfully threw out gold chalices and patens and raped the sanctuaries of their invaluable art did so under the false guise of showing solidarity with the poor. These same ICONOCLASTS, however, drive expensive cars, take expensive vacations, and dine at only the best restaurants. Apparently, once you skimp on God in His House, you can compensate yourself in minor luxuries, or so they think.

Fr. Trigilio continues in the combox on the same post:

CAVEAT - There are TWO extremes that need to be avoided. One is the almost hedonistic and materialistic tendency to compensate for giving up having a wife, children and handsome salary by getting as much consumer goods as possible and aggressively pursuing comfort and leisure. That is NOT what a priest is called to do. The other extreme, however, is to confuse the distinction between a diocesan (secular) priest and a religious order (regular) priest. The religious (Dominican, Franciscan, Benedictine, Augustinian, etc.) takes a solemn vow of POVERTY, Chastity and Obedience. That vow of poverty means he cannot and does not own ANYTHING. He does not own a car, computer, television, stereo, and has no credit card, no checking account. Everything is owned by the order and everything is shared. If he needs something, he must ask the superior for permission and ask the bursar for the money. All his temporal needs are provided by the order, however.

The diocesan priest does NOT take a vow of POVERTY. We are allowed to own private property (like the laity) but we are to also be POOR IN SPIRIT, i.e., be detached from our possessions. What we own cannot and should not own us. Diocesan clergy have their own cars but also pay their own car insurance. We pay taxes like our parishioners. We have to borrow money to finance a car like anyone else. The diocese does not provide us with everything as the religious order or community does for the religious priest who took the vow of poverty.

The other extreme, then, is to presume and falsely judge and compare diocesan clergy with religious clergy. The Fratecelli were a heretical group in the Middle Ages who maintained that Christ had absolute poverty, therefore all clergy had to own nothing. Even the Apostles and Disciples did not universally embrace such complete and total poverty. St. Mark's family was of modest wealth and provided the Upper Room for the Last Supper and Pentecost. While some of my diocesan colleagues give scandal, many do NOT. Many live simple, modest lives without having to live exactly like a religious who is vowed to poverty. Like our people, we have to find a BALANCE.

The moral virtue of TEMPERANCE or MODERATION is essential for clergy and laity alike. I have a satellite dish so I can watch EWTN as my local cable only carries it half a day. I also give 10% of my income to the Church vis-a-vis my parish, my diocese, EWTN and Opus Dei. Many of my colleagues do likewise.

What we diocesan clergy need to avoid is the appearance as well as the actuality of scandal in that we should not be seen living an extravagant life. Buying, owning and wearing expensive and designer clothing can give scandal but so does not wearing your roman collar when on duty. Driving the most expensive luxury car when your average parishioner can only afford a modest standard or full size car can be scandalous. At the same time, if your parish is in a rural area, you may need an SUV to get to your people in bad weather, especially when they need to be anointed in the middle of the night.

If a priest is paying an obscene annual fee to belong to an exclusive golf club, then that is scandalous. There are moderate priced courses he can use, especially if his average parishioner can only afford them.

Bottom line is that I personally do not feel morally bound to only buy generic food. I try to live a modest but not frugal life. If I try to be generous to the church and to the poor, then I have no qualm of conscience occasionally enjoying a nice meal at a fine restaurant. It is all a matter of BALANCE, moderation and prudence.

We diocesan priests will be judged on what we did or did not do, just like anyone else. If we were generous or stingy; orthodox or heterodox; good or immoral.

Thankfully, we have support with organizations like the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy to help us foster ongoing spiritual, theological and pastoral formation in a fraternal environment.

20 Deacons Ordained for the Archdiocese of Atlanta

The picture to the right shows the 20 men who were recently ordained to the Permanent Diaconate for the Archdiocese of Atlanta.

The Georgia Bulletin, the Archdiocese of Atlanta newspaper, has the complete story of their ordination HERE.

A diaconate of faithful men, truly called and well formed, can and will be a tremendous asset to the life of the Church. The infusion of the new members of the clergy have the potential be a great relief to many of our Priests on the frontlines!

Note: I have created a new sidebar section of suggested reading for the Permanent Diaconate. One read of particular interest might be the Motu Proprio "SACRUM DIACONATUS ORDINEM" which restored the Permanent Diaconate in 1967.

Correction on the time - Franciscan Friars and U2 on LIVE TV Tomorrow at 4:30pm EST

Thanks to Web for being persistent in correcting my mistake. I said in my previous post that the Friars would be on LIVE TV at 2:30am EST. That was incorrect. They should be on at 4:30pm EST, a much more reasonable time.

The Friars would be on a popular Irish late night show with the band U2. The Late Late Show airs this Friday, February 22nd, at 9:30pm in Ireland, which means 4:30pm (EST)here. You can watch it live on the internet by going to http://www.rte.ie/live/
Picture is of the Friars at St. Patrick's Friary in Moyross, Limerick City, Ireland. Maybe you'll see some of them with Bono on live TV. Who would have thunk it?
UPDATE: Well, it wasn't meant to be. Those of you who tried to watch this on the internet, found out like me, that unless you have an Irish IP address you couldn't watch it. Had I more time I think I could have found away around it through an Irish Proxy server, but alas it wasn't meant to be. We can only hope that they will post the video from the show on the website. Check here to see if it is posted.