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

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Thanks for your prayers.  I leave soon.  Here are some dates that I especially ask for your prayers.  Please feel free to e-mail me at the address to the right anytime.  I'll keep the e-mail.  Let me know if you have any special prayers you'd like me remember.  I will continue to pray for your fruitful discernment.  May we all follow God's will for our lives. 

July 21-August 12-Pre-novitiate in River Forest, Illinois
August 12- Travel to Denver
August 15- Witness first vows of all the current novices in Denver
August 16-20th-Retreat
August 22nd- Vesitition-Reception of the holy habit of St. Dominic
                       -  Official start of the novitiate-year in Denver

Monday, July 19, 2004

Many Vocations in Catholic Blogland 
Catholic Blogland has many vocations this year.  It's a mark of a fruitful parish when several religious vocations call one parish home.  This year the Catholic blog parish (Called St. Blogs, though blog isn't a saint!  Can't we get a real saint to be our patron?) has many vocations.  Please pray for these people:
1. Andy K. - He'll be starting the novitiate for the Marianists.
2. Ryan      - He'll be starting the novitiate for the Benedictines.
3.  Julie      - She'll be starting her postulancy for the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia (Nashville).
4.  Michael - He'll be starting the novitiate for the Claretians.
5.  Jay         - I'll be starting the novitiate for the Dominicans.
I am sure there are more bloggers out there who will be starting formation this summer.  As well, you can see many more formation/discernment blogs on the right column of this page.  Please continue to pray for these individuals.   I have enjoyed reading these blogs.  I've also enjoyed sharing my vocation journey.  It has been fun.  Thanks for your support, comments, and prayers. 
Going Away Party-Dowry, Jay T-shirts, bittersweet goodbyes
My going away/graduation party was Saturday.  My mom was so awesome: she cooked so much food, got a DJ who had karaoke, and did so much more.  My dad took care of the other details.  Their hard work payed off.  How awesome it was to see family and friends one last time before I ship out to the prenovitiate.  I had a wonderful time.  The best gift was seeing so many of my loved ones.  Thanks to everyone who was able to attend.  Thanks to all of those who have supported me, helping me get to this point in life.  I give all of my thanks, and assure you of my prayers and thoughts. 
I was originally concerned about finances.  Thankfully, the money I need for my dowry has been provided by the generous help of my friends and family.  I was also given a reliquary for my St. Dominic relic. 
My LCTV friends cracked me up!  They made several t-shirts.  One had the Vatican flag with the words "Jay for Pope" over top.  On the back was my face with a miter.  Other shirts included a picture of Jesus.  In the crowd, if you look very very close you'll find me.  In my hand is a microphone and a TV camera.  Another t-shirt was of "St. Jay."  How ridiculous.   I couldn't believe it.   I was given my own shirt.   
I was touched to see so many people come out to the festivities.  The notes and letters of support were also appreciated. 
At the same time, it is quite sad to think of leaving behind so many loved ones.  I'm really going to miss these people.  I find peace in knowing that the good Lord guides and leads.  I feel that I'm going where I'm supposed to be.  I know there will be some pain in saying goodbye, but following my mission in this life calls for some sacrifice.  Where I am going, I'll be much more valuable for the Church, for the world, and for my loved ones.  I pray that the Lord's will be done.  The novitiate is a time for me to try on the life of a Dominican, to come to a deeper understanding of the mystery known as vocation.  Whether it is my vocation to be a Dominican or not, I desire only to follow Christ.  He'll lead, I try to follow.  May I listen and respond through the course of my formation.  Only 2 more days and it begins...

Friday, July 16, 2004

It's been a long while since I last wrote.  I've been very busy packing up my stuff to ship to Denver.  I've also been organizing all of my possessions.  Over the course of 21 years (Update: 22 years!) I've managed to collect a lot of "stuff."  I had my things all over the house.  I've gone through and eliminated things I don't need anymore: papers and other garbage.  As well, much has been given away to St. Vinny's: clothes, sports equipment, videos, etc.  Now, I know where all my things are; everything is in a place I can easily find it later.  One box contains all my important papers, another box contains all the baseball cards I collected over the years, another box has miscellaneous things.  My dad told me I couldn't e-bay my baseball cards.  Until, and if, I make solemn vows, they will sit in the closet like a fine vintage, becoming better with age.  Everything is safely stored in my closet.  Though this experiment took a long time, it feels good to be organized and simplified.  

Some have asked, "What do you bring?"  So...
I've also decided what I'm going to bring along with me to the novitiate.   I've selected some books I've had on my shelf and always wanted to read: Sing a New Song by former Master of the Order Timothy Radcliffe, OP, John Paul II's Vita Consecreta, The Story of a Soul By St. Terese, Life of Christ by Servant of God Fulton Sheen, Saint Dominic: The Grace of the Word by Guy Bedouelle, OP, Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross, St. Augustine's Confessions, The Catechism of the Catholic Church, The Bible, and a short book on St. Anthony of Padua.  I may also throw in Fr.Thomas Merton's No Man is an Island, and the Documents of Vatican II.  I think that is it for now.  There is also a library in the novitiate, so I can choose more books once I get to Denver.   The books I've selected are books I've had for a while, but never had the time to read.  I'm also bringing along a Latin primer, and some guitar books. 
I've also packed black dress shoes, sandals, and gym shoes, along with some clothing:dress pants, pair of jeans, shorts, etc. 

You want a gun belt?!
Also included is a 2 inch black belt for my habit.  Where in the world did I find a 2 inch black belt?  It's a long story.  I traveled through the mall to no avail.  Finally, I decided to try a police uniform shop.  I started to put the thickest belt around my waist.  The lady came up to me, "You need a gun belt?"  My friend laughed.  "No, I don't need a gun belt."  The thing was huge.  I told her I needed a 2 inch belt.  She's like, "What group are you with?"  "The Dominicans."  It didn't even phase her, she nodded her head and showed me a selection of very fine, very strong black belts.   "That is worn under the gun belt and can take a serious beating."  Of course, that is the belt I bought. 
Besides books, bags, clothes, shoes, and belt, I've also included some winter gear.  I've been asked to bring an acoustic guitar along, too.  I'm still debating whether to bring a personal CD player.  It is on the list as optional items.  Um... I still don't know.  Is it living a simple life? 
The letter that tells us what to bring says, "Less is more."  I keep that in mind and hope I'm packing simply enough.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Off to...

The last leg of my U.S. tour begins in a few hours.
Where in the world am I travelling to this time?
"Nebraska???" You ask.
"Yes," I respond.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

2 Weeks!

Wow! 2 more weeks and I'll be starting formation in the pre-novitiate. The time since my acceptance has gone by so quickly. I continue to prepare. I must say, I am pretty excited to get started. Until then, I pack, clean stuff out, travel, enjoy friends and family, get some work done, read, pray, have a graduation party/going away party, and say some more goodbyes, or at least "so long until next time."

2 weeks. 14 days and counting...

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Vocation Prayers are showing some fruit at my parish

Someone from my parish told me we haven't had a vocation since at least Vatican II. I am not sure where to confirm this statement. What I do know is our parish currently has a vocations committee that meets monthly to pray for and nurture vocations. They are doing great work. Our parish prays a vocation prayer during each Mass. On Sundays, we have a family come up to receive a vocation cross. The family promises to pray for laborers during the week. The cross is a reminder of their commitment. In addition, each month we have a day of Adoration for vocations. Of course, more can be done, but this is a very solid start.

I want the parishioners to know that their prayers are paying off. They are following Jesus' words to pray for workers for the vineyard. As Christ says, laborers are indeed few. We can never have enough priests, deacons, sisters, or brothers. Our parish, the same one that hasn't seen a vocation in years, is the home to a couple of vocations: I'm going into the Dominicans, another man is going into the Augustinians, and at least one other man has shown serious interest. May all parishes continue to do what is necessary to promote all vocations. Prayer is a first step. Inviting young men and women to think about the religious option is another step. For more ideas on promoting vocations, please see my post from Nov. 2nd, 2003. For my reasons why we all need to be vocation promoters, please see my post from Oct. 27, 2003.
Prayer for Laborers for the Harvest

Today's Gospel:
Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is abundant but the
laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest."


Let us pray the words of Pope John Paul II:

Jesus, Good Shepherd, raise up in all parish communities, priest and deacons, religious, consecrated lay people and missionaries according to the needs of the whole world, which You love and want to save.

We entrust to You in a particular way our parish community; create in it the spiritual atmosphere of the first Christians in order that it may be a cenacle of prayer where we lovingly receive the Holy Spirit and His gifts.

Assist our pastors and all consecrated souls. Guide the steps of those who have generously welcomed Your call and prepared themselves for Holy Order or the Profession of the Evangelical Counsels.

Direct Your loving gaze to the many well-disposed young people and invite them to follow You. Help them to understand that only in You they can achieve their fulfillment.

We entrust these great desires of Your Heart to the powerful intercession of Mary, Mother and model of all vocations, and beg You to sustain our faith in the certainty that the Father will listen to what You Yourself have instructed us to ask for.

Monday, July 05, 2004

On Vocations

"Each one of us has some kind of vocation. We are all called by God to share in His life and in His Kingdom. Each one of us is called to a special place in the Kingdom. If we find that place we will be happy. If we do not find it, we can never be completly happy. For each of us, there is only one thing necessary: to fullfill our own destiny, according to God's will, to be what God wants us to be.
"We must not imagine that we only discover this destiny by a game of hide-and-seek with Divine Providence."

Fr. Thomas Merton, No Man is An Island
Are you having trouble with Blogger?

I have had troubles with many blogs. I click on my links to get to various blogspot sites. Unfortunately, the screen says it can't locate the site. I hit refresh several times, and finally it allows me to enter the sites. Are you having trouble getting into blogspot sites?

Friday, July 02, 2004

Our Religious Freedoms

I thank God we live in a land where we are free to practice our religion.

May the courts never forget our freedoms. It is a sad day when the constitution is thrown out the window. I think of what is happening in California, where Catholic Charities is forced to provide contraceptive coverage for its workers.

How about when the Archbishop of Chicago is sent a letter from the City telling him that his preaching against certain immoral actions ("gay marriage") constitutes a violation of the separation of Church and State. Seriously, I'm not joking.

We are the most free nation. I'm proud to be an American, but sometimes I have to stop and ask "What the?"

UPDATE: The information I cited came from the Monsignor James Barta Distinguished Lecture that Cardinal George gave at my college, Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, on April 27, 2004.
Happy Independence Day!

Check out the above link and enjoy your own fireworks show. Go crazy with the mouse and you'll have you own grand finale.

May we never forget our freedoms, and the sacrifices of those who have gone before us.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

St. Augustine, Pray for Us!

"God will not suffer man to have the knowledge of things to come; for if he had prescience
of his prosperity he would be careless; and understanding of his adversity he would be senseless."

You are Augustine!

You love to study tough issues and don't mind it if you lose sleep over them.
Everyone loves you and wants to talk to you and hear your views, you even get things like "nice debating
with you." Yep, you are super smart, even if you are still trying to figure it all out. You're also
very honest, something people admire, even when you do stupid things.

What theologian are you?

A creation of Henderson

thanks Just One Friar for the link.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Woo hoo, a New OP blog!

A brand new Dominican blog is up and running. Check it out! I'm sure you will recognize the young Friar's words. The site looks great.

Just One Friar

Seriously, an earthquake hit me in Illinois last night

Last night I was in bed and my whole room shook. It was like an explosion. It was the wildest thing. We thought maybe the sump pump had exploded. I didn't know for sure. I was a bit scared, but finally went to sleep. This morning I learned that last night the Joliet/Ottawa area had an earthquake!! A freaking earthquake?!
You have got to be kidding me.
A 4.5 Richter scale earthquake in Illinois?
At least we are all still alive.

Ok, I give you permission to laugh at me and my excessive dramatics over the five second ordeal.
Did you feel the earthquake?

Sunday, June 27, 2004

"Follow me." "Well, first let me...."

Our Gospel today shows how easy it is to put the call of the Lord on hold.

Luke 9:59-62.
To another he said, "Follow me." But he said, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." But he said to him, "Leave the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." Another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home." Jesus said to him, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God."

How many times I thought in one year I'll be more mature. In one year, I'll have more life experience. In one year, I'll be able to make this easier for my family. In one year, I can read so many more books. In one year, I can see the world. In one year I..

He was calling now, how could I keep making excuses? Thankfully over time, through prayer, dialogue, and discernment I could give in. I could put my plans aside. If he was calling me today, I could no longer say, "Well, just wait a while and then I'll follow your call."
I must put my life in his hands today. I can't walk away.

Putting the call on hold.
I repeat a quote from Sr. Joseph Andrew Bogdanowicz, OP, the Vocation Director for the ever growing Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. The good sister says,, "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. I thought I was always going to be a member of the Perpetual Discerner's Club. Prayer was the thing that made me move. A little nudge moved me. Clearing up bogus obstacles I had put in the way moved me.

This situation reminds me of quotes from two priests I know:
"Sometime you have to just got off the fence." And "You can't keep postponing the inevitable."
Sister says we need a disciplined prayer life. I think this is the best bet. She says we should never give up. 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?"
The truth is, we are not worthy, we can always make excuses, we can always be better. I think the best choice is to jump on the trail and follow as soon as it becomes clear. I think we owe the Lord the chance that the religious life/priesthood is our calling. He'll show us the way, we just need to be open.
I'm back. Vacation was great. I'll have more later.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

On Vacation.

I'm on vacation. Upper New York. Goodbye.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Congrats, New Deacon!

You know him as Meandering Seminarian.
He is now a meandering Deacon.
Check out the pics he's posted.

Two young men were raised to the priesthood this past weekend in the diocese of Des Moines. While I don't reside in that diocese, I tagged along with some friends. It was simply marvelous. If you haven't been to an ordination, I would highly recommend attending. It is so moving to see a guy give his yes to the Lord. At several points during the Mass, I got a bit teary eyed. I couldn't help but think how loving our God is that he calls people to the priesthood. I couldn't get over the fact that these young men where able to say yes in such a profound way. It is truly inspiring. Thank God for these young men!

I couldn't help but think that my journey starts in about a month. The novitiate is only the beginning, but I can end up where these two men ended up this weekend. How beautiful. I can't believe that it could be me in a few years. Our Lord has been way too good to me. He has showered His mercy upon me. I am not even worthy to untie his sandals, yet, he could be asking me to bring His very Body and Blood to the people of God! How amazing! We must remain open to what he is asking.

The Mass of Thanksgiving (AKA First Mass) was also very moving. It was great to see the new Father's face as he chanted the Mass for the first time. Oh! I wish you could have seen it. How beautiful. How wonderful. This is all made possible because of God's great grace. May we see in their witness something that inspires us to give our own yes. We can make it, if the Lord is truly calling us. May so many more answer the call.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Upcoming Posts

In order to keep myself on track for regular updates to this site, here are some topics I want to write about in the next few days:
1. The priesthood ordinations I attended this weekend in Iowa.
2. The priesthood and the Eucharist, as discussed by Cardinal George in his lecture at my school. How appropriate to post this now, as yesterday was Corpus Christi.
3. "The letter." The formal letter discussing the details of the pre-novitiate.
4. Clearing stuff out, shopping, and packing in preparation for leaving home.
5. The Devil.
I think that is it for now. I'll try to get something up here later.

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