My random thoughts on life as I prepare to enter the religious life this summer. "In the first place, you must never think that you are alone in deciding your future! And second: When deciding your future, you must not decide for yourself alone!" -Pope John Paul II

Sunday, November 30, 2003

Been a While and Happy Holidays

Well, I guess I'm not the only one who took the week off from the blog world.
What a week it has been! Wow!
I met with the wonderful vocation director on Wednesday.
At this time, I'm not going to post about the meeting, but I will later.
I had a very fantastic Thanksgiving. It was nice to pig out and then pass out.
I loved the family. All was very much appreciated. There is so much to be thankful for.

I had lunch with my grandma over the break, too. We had a nice talk about vocations. Really, religious life is so foreign to most people. I think religious life 101 is sort of necessary when talking about what it is I am looking into. She was very happy to hear that the novitiate would only be one year. After that, I am free to stay or leave. Of course I'd need the approval of the community and myself to stay, God willing. She thinks it makes sense to try it out. How else could I know if was really where I should be in life. And if I'm happy, then she's happy. Her biggest concern was with the habit, "Oh no, can't you just wear a suit and collar. You have to wear that everywhere?" Of course, you don't have to wear the habit everywhere. Though, I've seen pictures of Carmelite nuns playing basketball in full habit.
I'll have a lot more later. Big news in the works.

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Feast of Christ the King

Jesus says in the Gospel for today's Feast of Christ the King,"Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice."

How hard it is to listen to His voice! There are so many distractions. How about all the obstacles that get in the way of fully hearing what the Lord is asking of us? These distractions keep us from fully making Jesus our King.
I believe I am hearing a call from God to religious life. The call right now is really pulling my heart in amazing ways. Many days I think I'm floating on air because of the prospects of answering this call. But don't be alarmed, I know the real struggles of consecrated life. Idealism can be helpful, but it must be checked with realism. I know that angels are not called to religious life, but sinful men. I know that community is tough. There will be people in community who will disagree with me, who may not connect with me, or I to them, who may snore very loudly, etc. I know we have our desires, and the like. I've also gone through many challenges that have made me more realistic, and stronger. I find myself spending more time thinking about answering God's call, and my heart is on fire. At the same time, some things are blocking me from fully following the King's voice. I question myself if I am ready to apply to religious life right after college. Am I too young? Do I need more experiences? Will my family and friends disown me? Etc, etc.

I think spiritual directors can help us listen to the voice of God. We have barriers, and hopefully the spiritual director will be able to help us see past those obstacles. I have the most terrific spiritual director. He is amazing. He challenges me so much. At the same time, he is really moving me to acknowledge the reasons why I wanted to put religious life off. I can rationalize so many excuses, but then where will I be in 10 years? Will I still be putting things off another year? Will I ever actual be more ready? If I am indeed clearly hearing God's call to religious life, then I must act. He is the King, I must be a faithful subject. But I still haven't 100% made Jesus the King of my heart. If he calls me to religious life, then I can trust that Jesus will make things right. I don't have to let the fears lord over my decisions. I mean Jesus is the all powerful king! What can I fear? But still, how hard it is to say yes!

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Catholic Nerds 

There is a terrific blog site called The Catholic Nerd Blog.
They do hilarious "you know you are a Catholic nerd when....."

My friends and I came up with some of our own Catholic nerd-isms.
You know you are a Catholic Nerd when:

1. You introduce your friend as "Hi, this is my friend....He's Lutheran."
2. You have met girls by saying "Your miraculous medal is bigger than mine!?"
3. You pull up to your friend and harass him in Latin, at which point he responds...in Latin.
4. You make fun of your Lutheran friend by saying "Watch out! He'll nail something to your door."

Not nearly as good as the Catholic nerds, but this ain't the official site for Catholic nerds, now is it? Go check out the real deal.

I'm a man. 

The Gender Genie thinks the author of this passage is: male!
It analyzed 5579 words on this page and figured out that I was a male.

My stats:
Female Score: 6636
Male Score: 12459
What about you?

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Cardinal's Oath of Fidelity 

May we too live out the oath:

I [name and surname], Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, promise and swear to be faithful henceforth and forever, while I live, to Christ and his Gospel, being constantly obedient to the Holy Roman Apostolic Church, to Blessed Peter in the person of the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II, and of his canonically elected Successors; to maintain communion with the Catholic Church always, in word and deed; not to reveal to any one what is confided to me in secret, nor to divulge what may bring harm or dishonor to Holy Church; to carry out with great diligence and faithfulness those tasks to which I am called by my service to the Church, in accord with the norms of the law.
So help me Almighty God.

[Zenit- translator]

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

I love the used book sale.... 

Our school hosts a used book sale every year. It's an event I greatly enjoy. It's so exciting! My library has grown impressively, and for so cheap. Plus all the profits go to a good cause.

For the grand price of 4 bucks, I managed to score 7 books:
1. Catholic Apologetics Today by Fr. William Most. He actually taught at my school, though I don't think anyone here really wants to acknowledge that. It's sad. Many consider him one of the greatest Catholic minds of the century. Yet our school doesn't really care. You can check out his writings by clicking here.
2. How Not to Say Mass by Dennis Smolarski, SJ.
3. Life of Christ, by Servant of God Fulton Sheen. He is a Servant now, right? This book is wow! a beautiful monster.
4. The Consecrated Life by JP2.
5. Gift and Mystery by JP2
6. Great Ideas from the Great Books by Mortimer Adler.
7. Aristotle for Everybody by Mortimer Adler.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

My Vocation and Adoration 

In my last post I discussed how Adoration helps vocations. I think of my own history. As a youngster, I didn’t know much about Christ’s true Presence. I remember being taught that Jesus was present in the readings, in the people, and in the Blessed Sacrament. I also remember someone on a high school retreat mentioning the graces they found in Adoration. But, I don’t think I understood what the Eucharist really meant. I did know that something special was going on when we received Communion, and something special on the altar.

But, it was Advent of my freshmen year of college when I realized the implications of Jesus’ True Presence. I attended an Adoration service. On my knees in front of our Lord and Savior with the incense soaring and the song rising up to Praise our God and Father, it was then and there that I learned how magnificent this gift really is. I was in awe. I was amazed. How was it that I hadn’t done this worship before? I was so happy, so exhilarated, and so complete. It was wonderful.

I was like Simeon who saw the baby Jesus, “Your word has been fulfilled: my own eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared in the sight of every people…” Simeon was truly blessed to see the Lord. Simeon was then ready to die. I too was blessed to see the Lord, but, my life was just beginning. My life in Christ had only just begun! This singular event had transformed me. I knew that every Mass I attended would be different. Sunday Mass was a given. Within several months, I would start attending Daily Mass. If Jesus is truly present, and we can be united with that Grace each and every day, how could I miss Mass? It didn’t make sense to miss out. He is truly present! What love!

I think it was in this love for the Eucharist, inspired by Adoration, that I came to want to spread this joy and peace and grace to others. God had showed me his love and salvation on the altar; it was too much for words. My only response: how can I spread that love to others. I had thought about priesthood before this experience, but this gave me many more reasons to consider the vocation. You mean to tell me that I can offer the Mass each day for the good of the people of God and myself? Wow! Or how about the people who don’t know the Truth of the Blessed Sacrament? Somehow, maybe I could teach others to recognize the Truth, but this is possible only through God’s grace. There are so many reasons why Adoration can inspire us to be the best Catholics we can be. I mean we are looking at Jesus and He is looking back at us. In that quiet we can hear the call from God. When we find our vocation, that is the place where we will be the best Catholics.

How about you? How has adoration influenced your discernment? I'd be interested to hear from you, if you have a few minutes. Let us continue to pray that many more will love and know the intimacy found in the Blessed Sacrament. As well, may we persevere.

Adoration and Vocations 

Just some of the (typical) reasons why Adoration rocks:

Blessed Mother Teresa said, "We were just like other religious congregations with few vocations. Then at our chapter in the 1970s we made a decision to have a holy hour in all our convents each evening...We began to see more clearly our mission to serve the poor in Christ's name. We began to live a more fruitful family life among ourselves. We experienced double the number of vocations in our congregation. And we grew personally in our intimacy with the Lord present in the Eucharist."

The Bishop of Cloyne in Ireland said that vocations to the priesthood TRIPLED since the diocese started Perpetual Adoration. They went from 16 seminarians in 1990 to 45 in 1993.

At St. John Fisher Seminary in Stamford, Connecticut, enrollment at the seminary rose by over 50 percent within a year of the foundation of a perpetual Adoration chapel. (Stats from here.)

And these are only a few examples.
Keep on praying! Here at my school we've been a little slow in starting Adoration. Good news though: this Thursday we'll be having a two hour Adoration service. Several of the students will be giving brief reflections on the awesomeness that is the Eucharist. May many more come to love and know the intimacy found in the Blessed Sacrament. It is in that experience of Christ's presence that we can come to know Him, ourselves, and our mission in the world.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

St. Albert the Great, OP, pray for us!
A cloistered Dominican nun has created a calender. You can read about the Saint (and the nun) here.
How important Saints are in my own consideration of the religious life.
What a treasure of our Catholic Church. And yes, I'm still looking for a man sized crucifix to pray with!

Friday, November 14, 2003

Saint Clelia, pray for us! Or: The story about man-sized crucifix. 

It's still thesis time, but I had to post this little quiz. Go ahead and take it!

One more point. When I was in Rome, I often joked about how many of the saints have magnificently large crucifixes in their hands. It's a sure fire key of holiness, no? The one in this picture isn't too huge, but still, the point is: meditate on the Holy Cross.
I think we've lost a lot of the "huge crosses in people's hands" kind of spirituality. When was the last time you saw a person praying with a cross the size of their upper torso? I haven't. Wait...Fr. Paublo from EWTN fame, you know the Redemptorist? Yes!!! He is always walking around with a 4 foot cross. Don't be surprised if he is some day raised to the altar. If someone can find me a totally enormous cross, please send it my way.

Saint Clelia
Saint Clelia is praying for you! To learn more
about this lovely young saint go to the Patron
Saint Index at http://www.catholic-forum.com

Which Saint Would You Be?
brought to you by Quizilla

Thursday, November 13, 2003

thesis time 

It's been thesis time for a while, but now is the gong-ho days.

Prayers are always helpful.

Monday, November 10, 2003

A battle for the soul of the Church?  

WOWZERS! Check Dominican Life Magazine, for a fierce debate.
It all revolves around one article by Fr. Keller called "Fighting for the Soul of the Church." It has been posted for all of a few hours and already there is a multitude of comments, including my own.

Father Keller, in a reflection for college students, really makes a call to arms. He says, "One "party" is the "liberalizers" who seriously adopted Vatican II's model." The other party is the conservers who are desperate. Father says, "Even if the frightened conservers hold many official positions, they don't control the soul of the Church unless we let them."

My response to this article:
Wow! I have much to think about after reading Father Keller's article. This reflection was intended for College students. I remember reading somewhere that Call to Action ("liberalizers") had a young adult rally and all of about 30 young adults showed up. Meanwhile, Steubenville ("conservers") hosts over 30,000 college students [correction-they were h.s. students] a year! What was Father saying about "desperate" orthodox?

I don't like name-calling, but I think Father did just this. I hope his college students see past this sad call to arms, and find ways to build bridges while seeking the Truth. This is very difficult when name-calling and battling references are used. Battles don't imply seeking Truth, but forcing one party's views on the other. We don't need battles, that is for sure. How can we seek the Truth when our teachers belittle members of the Church who claim to be orthodox, those who hold fast to the teachings of the Church? It is very difficult. I just hope his students are able to stand strong in their faith and not join Father Keller on his battle for the soul of the Church. From the hordes of young adults I've met, I think the Church will be OK

This debate sparks much for discernment, I believe. I'll post more on how similiar debates effect discernment. One may say that they can't join an order when they have to deal with statements like Fr. Kellers. But I say don't dismay! Look:

I think it is best to leave with a quote from another post-er, recently ordained Fr. Phillip Neri, OP:
"For those of you worried about the Dominican Order, don't be. We are working hard on our faithfulness, and despite all of our failures, we are making great progress! Continue to pray for us, and pray especially for our novices, student brothers and sisters, and the newly professed and ordained. The weight of the Order will fall to us soon and we need all the help we can get."

Catholic Answers-Help for your vocation. 

I've listened to Catholic Answers for a while now. I've greatly enjoyed the programs. In my last post, I pointed out that CA host Jerry Usher was considering a call to the priesthood. That's great! But that article is from a few years back. He is still on the air, so maybe he's still considering it or has discerned another path in life. Maybe one of you knows better. I know the radio show has often times featured vocations discussions. Several shows have inspired me greatly in my vocation. Actually all of their radio shows are grand.

Just the other day, Sister Joseph Andrew, OP, from the Dominican Sisters of Mary, appeared on the show to discuss religious life today. You can check it out here.

I would greatly urge anyone interested in the Dominicans to check out this program on St. Dominic. It may inspire you greatly. I know it was a blessing for me. By the way, Catholic Answers has a Dominican Chaplain.

Or how about some other saints.

I bet if you listen to any one of the possible vocations programs, you'll love it!
Actually, when I learn more about any aspect of the faith, it helps my desire grow more to spread that knowledge. So just listening to any program may help you in your vocation. Learn the Truth. Spread the Truth. Veritas!

Sunday, November 09, 2003

Article on OP increased vocations: 

Nice article about why the Dominican Order and many others are growing.
Here are some reasons:
1. A thirst for the faith. Candidates want to know more about their faith, and this can be fulfilled in the Order. Many candidates feel like they have been let down by their teachers or others who have been too soft. They learn to love the full truth and want to spread that truth for the glory of God and His people.
2. Identity. Says Father Walsh, "We still wear our habits, still live in community, are still known as a preaching order, and still pray and eat together. So many other orders have abandoned or altered their identities so much that they take on the appearance of social justice advocates instead of religious."
3. American frame of mind: Dominicans are democratic. The friars have some say. This is true with other orders and Bishops.
4. Marian. "Jerry Usher, a man who is discerning a vocation to the priesthood and the Dominicans in particular visited St. Albert's in May. He called the visit a "very, very good experience. They were very Marian and orthodox." "
5. Varied ministries that meet the talents and passions of the friar.
6. Ability to move around the country.

Of course there are many other reasons to join any order, or the diocesan priesthood. This is the six I found in the article. In my last post, I noted a characteristic of orders that are growing: many maintain the habit. This list of six points is just a few more reasons people are joining....Of course, I'll have more on this later.

On habits... 

Julie, a candidate for the Dominican Sisters of Mary Mother of Eucharist, as well as Marian Brother JL are linking to this article on religious habits.

The article is a good read. I believe about 85 percent of the women vocations are going to the traditional, habit-wearing types of orders. Is there a connection between the habit and vocations? We can debate that fact. If that if habits were the only thing a candidate looked for in an order, I'd probably say they needed to really think over their desires to be a religious.

We young see the habit as an emptying of ourselves to be filled with the Lord. We see it as a sign of our total consecration to our loving Lord. We see it as a terrific way to live out poverty. How can we live out poverty if we have a closet full of clothes, while our poor have only a few sets? As well, we see it as signs of our vows of obedience and chastity. It helps us and those we minister remember the higher things. These are just a few of the many valid and loving reasons to wear the habit.
But it can not be about us, it must be about a love for Christ.

I understand that many sisters saw their habits as barriers to those they minister to. I feel bad for those religious who saw the habit as oppressive. But, I do think we should understand they did have many reasons for losing the habits. I've met many of these women, and I know that most love Christ, and they think they are making the right choice. Our generation just doesn't have the same mentality of "we are oppressed," so we are freely taking on the historic habits, as well as the great Tradition.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Our Father, 593 Vocations per parish, please.... 

If there is one thing that really really gets my thunder rolling, its the prospect that so many people are missing the boat on vocations... I mean, I know people have free will. But, when they are not free to make a vocational decision because they haven't been encouraged, or do not even know the option exists for whatever reason we've discussed previously, they ARE NOT FREE. The truth is that so many people are called to the priesthood and religious life, a life of love for the Lord and His people, a life of dedication and so much more. A life that will help the Church, help bring God's Kingdom, and help the individual called to the life. The problem: about 590 people per parish are missing the boat. This makes me want to drop the F-bomb.

Julie, discusses Msgr. Swetland's opinion that 1 out of 5 people have religious vocations. On a previous post, I said that we should have at least 20 vocations per parish and campus ministry. I WAS NOT joking! According to the logic of Msgr. Swetland, we should have about 593 vocations per large parish!!!! AMEN.

I mean what the heck? Why not? So many are missing the boat. We can't be cowards, but must be strong in our resolve to promote vocations. It's all of our responsibility. 593 come quickly! I put this matter in the Lord's hands and pray that His will be done. But, we still have to help bring about the will of God. And leave a comment about this issue, please.

Joys of blogging... 

In this blog world, I've meet so many great and amazing people. I've read reflections that encourage me in my vocation. I've listed several solid sites to the right. Check these sites for kernals that may help you in your own vocation. Several of the blog sites listed are people who are in the same boat as us: discerning our vocations in life. Other people have already made life choices, but can also inspire and challenge us. Others are just plan hilarious.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Are you in the Perpetual Discerner's Club? 

Sr. Joseph Andrew Bogdanowicz, OP, the Vocation Director for the ever growing Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist gives advice if you are having trouble making a commitment to a calling. If this is you, then you probably want to check this article. She addresses several common reasons people put off responding to God's call.

There are those who say they are not ready or too young. "A temptation we might all experience at some time is to fill our empty nets with other riches: people, social entertainments, money, prestige, and all the false allurements of this world." And yes, this one fits me exactly. Last year I had the opportunity to live in Europe. I loved the experiences and the times. I also thought I grew a lot as a person. I said, "I want to see the world again before I join because then I can be a better person and a better priest." But really I was following after riches of seeing the world and probably not following the Lord as well as I could.

Classic sister:"More time for what? Time to decide; time to visit a multiplicity of convents or seminaries; time to get everything in perfect order including family, friends, long-range plans; you name it! I am more and more convinced that we ought to start a support group for those caught in this category the Perpetual Discerner Club."
Yes, yes, yes. Amen, good Sister.
This reminds me of quotes from 2 priests I know:
"Sometime you have to just got off the fence." And "You can't keep postponing the inevitabletable."

So what can we do if we are still on the fence?
Disciplined prayer life. A visit to a religious house or seminary to see if it "fits." Ask questions. Spiritual direction. Make a Come and See or other retreat. Never give up. And if you think you know the call is there-then embrace it.
"But imagine for a moment the immense transcendent joy of living the priestly vocation as “another Christ” or the beautiful life of a woman who has been called to be a “Spouse of Christ”! Who among us would ever feel worthy, prepared, ready?"

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Please read this letter.... 

[I would encourage you to consider doing similar endeavourers in your parish or school. I think these ideas can bear much fruit. I give you permission to re-use any parts of this letter for your own letter to your priest or ministers.]

I write you this day to encourage you to continue your work in promoting vocations.
I would like to share with you an internet post I recently wrote: [see post from Oct. 27.]

Father, I believe in order to increase the number of workers for the vineyard, it takes a truly team effort. There are a number of things our campus is doing that is helpful. But, wouldn't you agree with me that there is more we can do? Many people are missing the boat. We owe it to the Church we love, to people we help, and to ourselves to promote many many more vocations.

First, I think we can start including prayers for vocations and life choices in each Mass. A vocation to serve can only blossom through prayer. And we have the direct command from Jesus to pray to the Lord of the Harvest to send workers to the field. This a direct command of our Lord. No matter what people do in life, they want to know that people are praying for them in the difficult life choices many make in college. How many of my friends, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, are troubled by the future, not knowing where to go in life. It is through God that these people might better know their life calling, to have some peace in life decisions. So, let us have an increase in vocations prayers, everyday and every Sunday mass. Let us pray that all people will be willing to give themselves in service, and to happy and holy life choices. Please see the enclosure for a list of sample prayers.

Second, I think it would be helpful to have a vocations's rack in the back of the Church. This idea comes from my own experience. When I was in high school, I wanted to learn more about religious life and priesthood. The problem was that I couldn't talk to anyone about it. I just didn't feel comfortable talking to ANYONE about it. One day I was at a Church that had a magazine rack. In there, I found a copy of Vision. What a joy it was!!! I was enthralled to read about vocations, to see pictures and hear stories of all the options that are out there for me and for others. WOW!!! I still get excited thinking about the first time I thumbed through the pages of that magnificent magazine. I remember having to hide it, so no one would know I was thinking about the life. Well, I am concerned for this school, because there is nowhere in the back of church where someone can go and secretly take a copy of vision. So, please consider setting up a vocation area in the back of church. Or just a few copies of Vision can be placed back there, though I think we can do better! You may even use this story sometime in a homily. Not use my name, but say how some people are too scared to talk about vocations, and then you could use the prop of the magazine, and say that they are always available in the back, and anyone is free to take one if they'd like.

Third, it would be nice if your young religious friend could come here next semester and give a very short reflection after communion. I know her life is extremely interesting, but how many women know how attractive the life is? I think a key is showing young people that young people are still joining the seminary or religious life. From my conversations with the women who are considering vocations, they desire a community that is youthful. They enjoy the company of older religious, but they are more encouraged when they hear the stories from someone like them: a younger adult. They want to be reassured, let us help all of the campus see another facet of our great Church: the consecrated life.

Fourth, I would suggest sending out an e-mail to some faculty, or to all faculty. I think this e-mail could just mention the fact that we are starting a discernment group and that if any teacher knows of a student who may be interested or may have potential as a religious or priest, maybe they could forward those names to you. When these names are collected and added to the names I have gathered, we could send them a little letter. I simple letter stating the fact that one of their teachers, or friends thought they may have a calling to the life. This letter could just encourage the students (or faculty???) to consider the life, maybe make a visit to you, and to just pray about it. I think this letter could come from you, or from me. I have already worked on a rough draft, which I am also enclosing. Depending on how many names we get, we could include a copy of Vision or other vocations helps with the letter.

Fifth, start a monthly discernment group. We could meet once this semester for a social and prayer. Then, next semester we can start our meeting once a month.

Sixth, several of the women I know have suggested having a vocation fair. Well, I don't know if we have a big enough campus for that. I thought I would at least let you know that some of the women have asked for this. I guess it could be tied into a service fair, where people from JVC and other groups come to talk to us.

Seventh, I think it would be nice to set up something in the campus center. It could just be a poster board with a collage of images. Magazines and prayer cards could be available. Lay ministry and graduate school opportunities could be listed. We can make it humorous, if we wanted. A Jesus picture and a quote underneath it: I want YOU to be a priest or nun. Or,"If you were looking for a sign from God, consider this it"(Chicago Vocation billboard). Remember that Vocations Awareness Week is Jan. 11-16. Let us prepare in a huge way for this week with prayers and many creative ideas.

Eight, continue this throughout the upcoming years. Encourage other colleges and parishes to set up similar endeavors. They aren't hard, but may bear much fruit!

Last, and most importantly, ADORATION. Claim after claim, and study after study shows that Adoration was a key in many vocations. It's like the Holy Father pointed out about Moses. Moses saw the Lord in the burning bush. His vocation was born from that experience of God’s holy presence. As one priest summarized it, "It was at the burning bush that Moses learned who he was, who God was, and what his mission was in the world: to take the message of salvation to His people. It was from this talk that I also came to realize how there is an intimate connection between vocations and Eucharistic Adoration."

I hope these ideas correlate with your vision for the campus. I just thought I'd make some suggestions. Like I said many times, this is a team effort. I would be more than happy to set up any number of these concepts. I know you are already very busy, and would not want to have to add another thing for you to worry about. That is why I am letting you know that I am here to help promote vocations. Remember, we all are vocations promoters.

With prayers for many more workers for the harvest,

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