The Eye of the Storm

320px-Hurricane_Isabel_from_ISS.jpgSeems like we don’t post as much here as we did when our son first informed us that he wished to enter the priesthood. It occurred to me that we are in the eye of the storm right now. The quiet time after a storm hits and before the storm ends. He is on his pastoral year getting a taste of what it would be like to work in a parish setting. Next year he will return to D.C. to go back to the seminary and continue his classes toward getting his master’s degree. He is a little more than half-way through this process. We have become accustomed to the thought of his life’s calling and where it might lead him. We are now seasoned seminarian parents who know where he is, how he is being treated, and where he is headed. In a few years however, we will enter the backside of the storm as he approaches ordination. When will he receive ordination as a deacon? What are his responsibilities at this point? What if he changes his mind between the deaconate and priesthood? At his final ordination as a priest, what is expected of us? Are we involved in the ceremony or merely attendees? What is the traditional gift from the parents at ordination? (We think it is the chalice and paten.)  Where do you find such thing? Can you get them made special just for your child? Are we expected to have a party for him?

The back of the storm is coming but right now, I think we are content to bask in the short burst of quiet and sunshine that is the now. Soon enough, we will batten down the hatches again and return to riding out the storm. As we enjoy this quiet moment, we realize others are just entering the whirlwind of their child’s decision to enter religious life. I pray our earlier posts will be signposts through the turbulence for these people and that they will find the answers they need.

— KitC (Mom of Evan)

 

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News from the Paulists!

Evan pointed out that the blog hasn’t been updated in a while.

He’s right.

I’ve missed several important events in the life of the Paulist Community. So, let me (with a firm purpose of amendment) get the blog up-to-date on a few important things.

Let’s start with this great article over at First Things about the oldest living Paulist priest, Fr. James Lloyd. The article highlights his years of service including time as a television host and seminary rector. I found this tidbit about his training as a psychologist.

Upon his return to the United States, his opportunities increased, as he earned a Ph.D. in psychology from New York University—a degree he believes enhanced his ministry as a priest. A philosopher by training, Fr. Lloyd had been instructing people in the faith with a classic theological approach. But while this logical process was effective in many cases, it ran into trouble with people who responded, “I can’t believe what the Church teaches.” Fr. Lloyd discovered that the reason these people couldn’t accept Christianity, and Catholicism in particular, was due not to intellectual factors, but to emotional ones. Deep resentments and unconscious biases had built up over many years, making them unable to see what Fr. Lloyd was teaching. He had to approach people differently, exploring their emotional worlds. That’s where his psychology degree paid off.

By combining sound psychology with traditional Catholic spirituality, Fr. Lloyd was able to remove the brambles in these people’s lives, which were blocking their path toward truth. Once those obstacles were removed, the logic of the faith became clearer, and reluctant souls under his care began flowing back into the Church once again.

The article concludes with this encouraging paragraph:

Speaking as a priest who has lived almost a century, he concludes, “I’m surprised the seminaries aren’t bulging with young men who want to have a wonderful and enriching life.” Fr. Lloyd feels blessed to have lived one.

Over at Paulist Press, they inaugurated the Elequenta Perfecta award, which was instituted “to celebrate people in communications who take their vocation seriously, live their faith life and can serve as an inspiration to others.” The award was given to Jeanne Gaffigan for her work as the writer and producer of The Jim Gaffigan Show. The cable-based sitcom chronicles the lives and foibles of a fiercely Catholic family living in New York City. Jeanne sees the program as a vehicle for sharing the faith:

She said the couple tries, “in our own imperfect way, to present a household of faith in one of the most culturally diverse places in our country.” The television show is loosely based on their experiences working in the comedy field and raising children in a two-bedroom apartment in New York.

Speaking of Paulist Press, just yesterday Paulist Press was awarded the Lumen Ex Libris by the Vatican Publish Office. Well done!

Finally, the biggest news happened back in September when Matthew Berrios, Steven Petroff and Stuart Wilson-Smith were all ordained as transitional deacons. This major milestone is one of the last before priestly ordination. Please keep them in your prayers as they finish this last year of training and formation before assuming their duties as priests.

–Dad of Evan

Pope Francis on Formation

At a conference sponsored by the Congregation for the Clergy, Pope Francis shared a few thoughts on the formation and role of priests.

One thing that he said struck me as particularly important:

“A good priest is first of all a man with his own humanity, who knows his own history – with its treasures and wounds – and has learned to make peace with it, gaining a profound serenity, characteristic of a disciple of the Lord,” he said. “Human formation is therefore needed for priests, so they may learn not to be dominated by their limits, but rather to put their talents to use.”

The idea of that priests are in need of human formation is important and I think that many people don’t see priests as human.  Each priest is a man who has his own particular set of limitations and talents.  Some are great homilists.  Others are gentle and thorough confessors.  Others have the gift of communicating the Gospel to a wider audience.  Still others toil quietly in administrative jobs behind the scenes.

Whatever their gifts, these men need to take the time to understand themselves and find their place as servants in God’s kingdom.  Pope Francis’ words on human formation emphasize that formation goes well beyond theological training and the practicalities of being a priest and pastor.  The process of formation — in a way that doesn’t seem to exist in secular training — addresses the totality of the person being formed.

Welcome to National Vocations Awareness Week!

124px-Spas_vsederzhitel_sinaySince 1976 the United States Council of Catholic Bishops has been promoting growth in vocations through “Vocations Awareness Week”.  Over the years it has moved around the calendar — from the 28th Sunday of the year to the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord and Finally to the first week of November.  Through all of that, the aim has always been to develop a “culture of vocations”.

According to a press release on the USCCB website:

“Encouraging others to recognize the promptings of the Holy Spirit and to follow Christ without reservations are key elements in supporting a culture of vocations,” said Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh, North Carolina, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations. “With God’s grace, we can have a positive impact on others who may be open to considering a vocation to priesthood or religious life, by simply inviting them to think and pray about it. Our enthusiasm and willingness to speak directly to others about vocations just might be the conversation someone need to respond to God’s call.”

The USCCB website supports Vocations Awareness Week with a variety of resources including a parish prayer card, homily points for priests and deacons, Holy Hours for Vocations (both with and without a priest) and prayers for vocations.

Please take a moment during your busy week and pray for vocations — both for those who are actively pursuing their vocation and for those yet to be called.

Another Vision of the Future

What if you could look into the future and see what your son’s life could be like in 6 years, 16 years or  26 years?  This ‘Vision of the Future’ series is intended to provide real life examples of an authentic discernment process that led to priesthood and then the expression of a joyful and fulfilling life.

The preceding post ( See: A Vision of the Future HERE ) shows a video of 2 young priests going through a discernment process that led to their priestly vocation.

Fr Joshua Johnson Fr Joshua Johnson was ordained in 2014,                                                                                         while Fr. MIke Schmitz was ordained in 2003.Fr Mike Schmitz

This post details Msgr. Charles Pope’s narrative of his discernment process 26 years ago and his reflection on ‘The Mystery of being a Priest.’  As a parent, you may identify with his  history of coming of age in the ‘beige Catholicism’ of the 1970’s and 80’s. He was ordained in 1989 and blogs regularly HERE at the Archdiocese of Washington DC blog

The Mystery of Being a Priest
Msgr. Charles Pope • June 23, 2015
Each year I concelebrate with hundreds of others priests in the ordination Mass of new priests. I find such Masses deeply spiritual. I have no role other than to quietly Monsignor Charles Popeconcelebrate, so the readings and the rites move me deeply. As I sit quietly, I ponder the mystery of my own priesthood.

When I was growing up, there was little to indicate that I would ever become a priest. I was not a particularly spiritual child (at least not after age 7). I did not “play Mass.” In fact, I did not like church at all. At the end of Mass when the priest said, “The Mass is ended, go in peace,” I responded, “Thanks be to God!” much more vigorously than necessary.

My teenage years were marked by rebellion and pride. And while it is true that I joined the parish youth choir, it was only so that I could meet girls. It was not an evil intent, but not particularly spiritual. I did indeed date a few of them, two of them seriously.

But sometime during college a strange and uncomfortable notion came over me that I was being called to the priesthood. It was an odd desire, one I could not explain.

It was true that by that time I had become a Church musician, organist, cantor, and choir director. But again, I do not think I was particularly spiritual.  Music was something I enjoyed, but my involvement was more about leadership and impressing others, especially girls.

The growing desire to be a priest was inexplicable to me. At the time I was dating a real beauty queen, Denise. She was pretty, kind, and did not bring a heavy agenda to the relationship. Her greatest desire was just to get married and start raising children. I was two years away from graduation from college. I already had a job lined up with the Army Corps of Engineers. My life seemed pretty well set. And now this? The priesthood? How crazy is that?

And it wasn’t just a fleeting thought; it was a desire and it was growing. It was so mysterious, so strange, so unexpected. Somehow in my most honest moments I knew that the desire for the priesthood was stronger than the desire for marriage. But it seemed disloyal to Denise and I wasn’t going to break her heart, no way! And frankly I did not respect most of the priests I knew at that time. It was the late 70s and early 80s, the era of beige Catholicism, and the priests I knew seemed worse than irrelevant. I often fought with the pastor about music. He couldn’t think past Carey Landry and the St. Louis Jesuits, while I had met Palestrina, Bach, Mozart, and Victoria.

What on earth (or in Heaven?) was this thinking about being a priest? I just couldn’t make sense of it.

I will spare you all the details, but God won. Denise had a change of heart (or maybe she got glasses and saw that I wasn’t all that great   ). Or maybe she sensed my growing ambivalence. I won’t go into the details, but our dating ended. The troublesome pastor and I also parted ways (he later left the priesthood).

Two years later I entered the seminary.  And now here I am, today, celebrating my 26th anniversary as a priest.

Sitting in the Basilica the other day seeing nine new priests ordained was a great joy. And there again were those words that spoke to the mystery of the call: Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet (Jer 1:4). Well, God always knew, but it sure was news to me before I was 22.

Yes, the call of God is a great mystery to me. Before I was born, God knew I would become a priest, but surely I did not know until long after birth.

Even after my ordination I would not have selected most the assignments I was given over the years. I came forth from the seminary as a Thomist, a Moral theologian. I graduated at the top of my class. I was skilled in Latin and the ancient liturgy, a lover of chant and polyphony. But my assignments were in African-American parishes that knew little of these, and where Gospel music was the mainstay.

Yet I could not be happier. I lost nothing of what I had; I only gained more. The mystery of God’s call makes our own notions and plans seem laughable in retrospect.

The second reading at ordination this past Saturday also speaks volumes to my experience. Paul wrote to Timothy, Until I come, attend to the reading (or Sacred Scripture) exhortation and teaching … Be diligent in these matters, be absorbed in them, so that your progress may be evident to everyone. Attend to yourself and to your teaching (1 Tim 4:12ff).

Here, too, God has been good to me. I can only say that for 30 years now, 26 of them as a priest, I have prayed every day, celebrated the liturgy every day, read and studied God’s word every day, and confessed every week. And through it all I am a changed man. I’m not what I want to be, but I’m not what I used to be. A wonderful change has come over me. I am more confident and serene. I have seen sins put to death and graces come alive. I love God more than ever. I love to pray and to teach. I have come to love God’s people so much more.

Surely my faults are still quite manifest. I am proud, opinionated, and too rash in many of my judgments. My zeal makes me impatient and too quick to judge. Have mercy on me, Lord and dear people of God!

But so many good things have come to change my life and to make a new man of me. Thank you, Lord. I do not boast, except in the Lord, for it is He who has accomplished all through the means above and by the prayers of his Holy people.

Please know that the authors of this blog pray daily for parents of discerning sons and daughters to find understanding and peace.

A Vision of the Future

One of the problems with a son discerning a vocation to the priesthood is the unknown.  What is in his future?  What will his life be like?   If your son was going to be an accountant, you would have a pretty good idea what his life would be like.  An individual’s view of priesthood is limited by their own experiences for better or for worse.

Parents need to see authentic examples of a discernment road that has led to priesthood.  Perhaps you don’t have a view of what a joyful, fulfilling life of a priest looks like.  Knowing that you are doing exactly what God put you on this earth to do yields a peace, contentment and joy that is difficult to describe, but is plain to see.

This video shares the story of 2 young men who grew up with the typical life experiences of girlfriends, sports and school.   They share how, over time, they grew to understand that God was calling them to a different way of life; something totally unexpected and unknown.

Yes, the road ahead is filled with question marks for you and your son.  The difference is that your son wants to take the road of questions with a trust in the Lord that you may not be able to understand at this moment.

So what should you do?  If your son is willing to travel that road with trust; it is your role to trust your son, the vocation director, your bishop, the seminary and the discernment process.

If you want to see more examples of the daily life of a priest, go to Youtube and type in “A Day in the Life of a Priest.”

Please know that the authors of the blog pray daily for parents of discerning sons and daughters to find understanding and peace

A Summer Visit to the Seminary

This time of year, you and your son may be thinking about making a visit to a seminary.  He may be accepted for the fall term or still thinking about it.  After so much talk and talk about what seminary would be like, my son and I went for a visit in late June prior to his entrance in the fall.   I did not want to see the place for the first time when he was moving in.   I think I needed to take some of the mystery away so I could envision his life there.

We went in the summer to get a first look and had a very nice guy entering 4th college show us around and answer questions about seminary life.   It was good to visit during the summer because we were able to tour all areas of the seminary.  If school had been in session, our tour would have been more limited as some areas were off limits for the privacy of the seminarians.

Our tour guide introduced us to everyone from the cafeteria ladies to the dean.  Everyone was happy to meet my son and welcome new men 2welcome him.  Our guide would introduce him as one of the “new men”.   I was not accustom to hearing my 18 year old son called a “man”.  But I have come to see that if you call them men and expect them to act like men, they will respond.  I can guarantee you that at the tour for the state university, male students were never referred to as new men, but incoming freshman.  The cultural expectations of a freshman in a traditional college are a far cry from the expectations of the new men in the seminary.

If you want to visit the seminary, call ahead and make arrangements.  It was great to have another seminarian give us a tour and answer our many questions.  He was candid and provided lots of little details and suggestions from bringing a fan and an extra lamp to how the refrigerator in the common room was shared.  He told us about the opportunities for intramural basketball and other sports when we stopped at the gym.  Since it was just the 3 of us, we could stop and ask questions when we had them.  I am sure my son was rolling his eyes at my practical and possibly “politically incorrect” questions, but the answers put my mind at ease.

If the seminary has an open house or orientation day, you may have the opportunity to meet faculty, administrators and other seminarians.   During an orientation day in August, we were welcomed by seminarians and faculty at an informal coffee and donuts session.   Then, we went on another tour with other parents and new seminarians.   I was impressed with the other seminarians there to assist in welcoming the new guys.  They were friendly, outgoing, joking around, joyful, sincere, helpful, kind and empathetic.  I know it sounds like boy scouts, but they really seemed like great guys.  Some were in “clerics” and others in t-shirts and shorts looking like they were going to play basketball after they finished giving the tour.  This may not have been what the seminary wanted our tour guide to wear, but it made him seem more real, approachable and a regular guy.  He was easy going, encouraged questions and answered candidly.  There were no taboo topics or questions.  Some parents on our tour asked him questions on the side.

By the end of both of these visits to the seminary, I felt much more comfortable seeing and experiencing the seminary environment.  Sure there were a few tears when we said good bye, but I did that when we took the older siblings to college.   Taking them to a state university, I worried they would not get to mass on Sundays.  In this case, I knew this son would be at mass 7 days per week.  One less thing  to worry about.

A son is a son…..

photo

I grew up hearing the rhyme, ” A daughter’s a daughter all of her life, but a son is a son till he takes on a wife”. But what happens when the son doesn’t take on a wife, like when he becomes a priest. The most common question I get from other people is “What about grandkids?” I am okay with not having grandkids but my first question was “Am I going to lose my son?”

I recently took a trip to D.C. The trip was not only to see my son, but as a surprise for my mother as well. My very thoughtful sister, Beth, was bringing my mother down from Pennsylvania to visit Evan for a weekend. She suggested that I also come to D.C. and surprise Mom. The plan worked worked like a dream and even my father kept the secret. My mother was surprised and happy to see me. It was wonderful getting to spend time with her and my sister.

I arrived a day earlier than my sister and mother and Evan had to work that morning. I wandered down to the kitchen for a cup of tea and found another seminarian doing the same. Michael C. is a lovely man about nine years older than Evan. We struck up a conversation that lead to him talking about his calling and the path his life is taking. At the end of the conversation he commented that it was like talking to his mom, but not. There are some things you can never talk to your mom about because….she’s your mom. I also felt like I was talking to a son. A son I was just getting to know and who was already fully grown.

The conversation got me thinking and I took some time to ask a few of the priests in residence at the college about their moms, and moms in general. Usually these gentlemen talked about the fact that they were close to both their mom and dads but became closer to their moms around the time of formation. Some commented, as the “single” man in the family, they were often looked on to coordinate family events and help their mother.  One individual commented the the death of a mother was often a mid life crisis event for priests.

After two days of visiting and touring DC on bus, Beth and Mom returned to Erie on Sunday morning. I stayed because my flight wasn’t until Monday morning. Evan and I had some time to visit the church of his spiritual director. I attended my first Eastern Rite Catholic Mass (a lovely spiritual event if you ever have the opportunity to partake) and dinner that evening was takeout from Evan’s favorite pizza joint (& Pizza). After the meal, Evan left me saying he and Mike H. were bottling a batch of beer they had brewed earlier. I stayed in my room for a while then suddenly grabbed my phone (camera) and went down to the kitchen. I got to spend two lovely hours talking and taking pictures of these young men while they bottled their cream stout beer. Mike loved asking me questions about Evan as a child. Evan groaned and Mike laughed about Evan’s climbing prowess and escape abilities at ten months.  This made for a very congenial evening. A toast at the end with flat beer and Mike commented, “I know you don’t see it because you aren’t here all the time, but the whole house gets lighter when a mom visits. There is just something about a mom, even if it isn’t your mom.”  (Another new fully grown son!)

I have had time to reflect on all this and I have come up with my own interpretation of the mom-son-priest relationship. God made man and woman to be support and help to each other. In a relationship where the man marries, that support and help comes from the wife. When a son gets married the mother steps back and allows the marriage relationship to flourish. A man who becomes a priest will still need that relationship of support and the benefit of a female perspective. Usually, the woman who suits that role best will be his mother. So a son is a son… for the rest of her life.

BTW. When asked if I would call Evan “Father” after ordination, I cheerfully reply “Of course, Father Sweetheart”

-Mom C.

Eighteen Months and Counting!

We’ve been posting thoughts here (off and on) since June of 2013.  For those of you who have followed from the beginning, thank you!  For those just joining us, welcome.

Looking over our logs, the links below represent some of our most popular posts, serve as a great overview of our adventure, and answer the most common questions we’ve received.

As always, we welcome your questions.  If there’s something you’d like to know, we’ll do our best to answer.  E-mail us at SeminarianParents@gmail.com

— Dad

What’s Your Catholic Habit?

Over the past couple of years, Evan has become a savvy traveller.  He skips packing a suitcase and manages with a carry-on and “personal item” as defined by the airlines.  This suits him well — of course — except when he needs something special like a suit.

Which he wanted for the 11:00 p.m. Mass on Christmas Eve.  Fortunately he and I are about the same size.  Well, to be honest, he’s a bit taller and thinner, but I have a couple of suits which fit him not-too-terribly.  It’s a “make do” sort of situation.

He’d chosen a blue wool suit of mine and was muttering a bit about what shirt and tie to wear.  Cathy drew me aside and said, “We’ve given him shirts and ties for Christmas.  Should we have him open them early?”

We discussed it and decided against the idea, I had shirts and ties enough and surely he could find something among them.

Around 9:15 he disappeared into the guest room to get dressed.

And emerged wearing his habit.

What’s a habit, you ask?  Let me show you a picture.

That sharp-dressed fellow on the left of that picture over there is Fr. Thomas Ryan.  He is the Director of Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations for the Paulists and he’s dressed in the high-collared, five button habit that has marked the order since the 1800s.

When Evan completed his First Promises this past summer, he earned the right to put CSP (Congregation of St. Paul) behind his name and the privilege of wearing the habit.

I can tell you this.  When you go to Mass with a guy in a habit, you get all the looks.  That suggests to me that people — even practicing Catholics — may not be overly familiar with the history or function of the habit.

So…a short summary with an interesting side note from St. Pope John Paul II.

The Wikipedia article lays it pretty well when it notes that “A religious habit is a distinctive set of garments worn by members of a religious order.”  Most folks, if they think about habits at all, identify the with religious sisters.  Aside from the sisters, you’ll often see Franciscan priests in their distinctive hooded robes with their triple-knotted rope belts.  (Bonus internet points for anyone who knows the meaning of the three knots…or just keep reading.) Or you might be a fan of Thomas Merton and remember pictures of him in his Trappist habit.

That’s as good a place as any to start with the question of why anyone would want to wear something so unusual.

Msrg. Charles Pope from the Archdiocese of DC puts it beautifully when he says:

Religious life is not hidden, neither is it occasional. To enter the priesthood or religious life is to publicly accept the consecration of one’s whole self to the service of God and neighbor. That is why the most traditional religious garb covers the whole body. It is more than a tee-shirt, a hat or an emblem of some sort. It is a covering of the whole body to indicate the entirety of the consecration.

Further, each habit is distinctive since each religious community has a particular charism or gift by which they collectively serve the Church. Religious and priests do not merely consecrate themselves for their own agenda. Rather they join others with a similar and proven charisms in communities recognized by the Church.

The word “habit” also suggests that religious life and priesthood are not an occasional activity, or even a 9 to 5 job. The are the habitual identity and life of the one who receives the call. That is also why the habit is usually worn at all times.

As Catholics we embrace the idea of visible signs of things which cannot otherwise be seen.  Habits make vocations visible to the world.  They remind the world that there are people who are dedicating themselves to the faith.

And the reminder the wearer of their own vocation.

Remember the question about the three knots of the Franciscans’ rope belt?  The obvious answer is that they stand for the Trinity — the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  That was my guess, anyway.  And I was wrong.  They stand for the three vows of the Franciscans — Poverty, Chastity and Obedience.  A constant reminder of the promises they have made to God.

In a 1996 Post-Apostolic Exhortation called Vita consecrata, St. Pope John Paul II encouraged the wearing of habits by saying:

§25 … Since the habit is a sign of consecration, poverty and membership in a particular Religious family, I join the Fathers of the Synod in strongly recommending to men and women religious that they wear their proper habit, suitably adapted to the conditions of time and place. Where valid reasons of their apostolate call for it, Religious, in conformity with the norms of their Institute, may also dress in a simple and modest manner, with an appropriate symbol, in such a way that their consecration is recognizable.

As I said, when you’re with a man in a habit, you get all of the looks.

Which got me thinking.  Although not all of us are consecrated, we all have a vocation — a call to live as God wills and to carry out our Baptismal mission.  What habits — or at least outward signs — do we show to let the world know that we are living out the identity of our faith?

— Dad

Fr. Martin’s Confession

Noted Jesuit Fr. James Martin published a piece on CNN.COM this week called “Confessions of a Catholic Priest.”  In it, he makes a couple of interesting points.

First of all, he speaks to a fact that might surprise some:

This may disappoint some readers, but I love being a Catholic priest. And I’m not alone. Survey after survey, year after year, shows that the priesthood is among the most satisfying of jobs.

He expands on that:

Think of just three moments of deep joy and deep sorrow in life: a wedding, a baptism and a funeral. You’re invited to participate in each of those moments with all manner of people — from families and friends you’ve known for years to nearly complete strangers. By virtue of your priesthood, you’re sharing people’s most important moments.

The rest of the article is interesting and well worth reading.  Especially as it was published to promote an episode of This is the Life with Lisa Ling which will explore the call to the priesthood.

News from the Web

Global-Network-iconComing to you from around the globe via the world-wide-web, it’s News from the Web!

(Imagine that read in an urgent, nasally voice accompanied by twitchy black-and-white film footage and you’ll get the idea I was shooting for.)

This week we ran across several interesting items on the web that seemed to be worth sharing in this space.  The first is a blog post by Amy V who is the mother of a seminarian.  In part she writes:

When he was in middle school, priests would ask him if he had ever thought about being a priest someday. He hated when people asked him this and from about 8th grade until 11th grade he started saying, “No way!” He loved Jesus though, and the Lord was always leading my son more deeply into a relationship with Him. My son also loved being Catholic, and since he attended a public school, was always looking for ways to defend his beloved faith. So, right before his senior year in high school, my son felt very strongly that the Lord was confirming in his heart a call to discern the Catholic Priesthood with a deliberate and an intentional heart.

There’s quite a bit more to the post and it’s worth your time to read the whole thing.

Next up, a reflection by Paolo Puccini on his experience of the First Promises Mass.

Making my first promise to the Paulists is much like making a down payment to “buy the field.” I was led here from my encounters with the treasure that is the Kingdom of God alive in my family and my experience of church throughout my life. Though I didn’t exactly sell my possessions because the Paulists don’t make a vow of poverty, I did have to leave behind my family, many close friendships, and a job I really enjoyed in Houston.

The whole post gives some great insights into Paolo’s journey to the Paulists.

Speaking of the journey to the Priesthood, the Los Angeles diocese posted a great article about discernment and the care which is taken in identifying appropriate candidates.

The challenge for us in the Office of Vocations is to be cognizant of an ever-present reality — the need for both quality and quantity of candidates for the priesthood. Certainly we have a great need in the archdiocese for many, many more priests. 

But what the Church does not need is just anyone to become a priest. Rather, we need those who are truly called by God and recognized by the Church to have an authentic priestly vocation. 

Our previous article, “Priestly Formation and the New Evangelization: The 4 Pillars of Formation” (July 4), dealt with the four essential dimensions of priestly formation in the seminary. We need well-rounded, holy men of prayer and study and learning who demonstrate the capacity to serve God’s people well as parish priests. Thus, while a great quantity of new seminarians is a primary goal, the quality of each candidate is also of supreme importance.

Although the article is specific to the LA diocese, it is good reading for anyone contemplating a vocation.

Finally, over at The Word on Fire, Fr. Robert Baron and his team released a short film called Heroic Priesthood.  Fr. Baron explained his motivations for the project:

My goal with this film is to reach as many people as possible—certainly priests and seminarians, but especially young Catholic men. I want them to see that holiness is heroic and that Jesus Christ’s invitation to the priesthood is an invitation to an extraordinary life.

It’s a terrific film; well shot and worth twelve minutes of your time.  And — even for a sports illiterate like me — the basketball theme still worked.

— Dad

Catholics and Mormons Working Together

This past week, a small film premiered in Salt Lake City.  What’s remarkable about the film is that it was created as a collaboration between Paulist Productions and Covenant Communications.  The local news featured a short segment highlighting the event and introducing some of the people behind the project.

What’s cool about this is that it so fully expresses the Paulist commitment to ecumenism and the use of modern media to “reveal God’s presence in the contemporary human experience.”

The film is called “Christmas for a Dollar“.  It tells the tale of a poor, Depression-era family that is seeking to find joy in a (forcibly) non-material Christmas.  It’s the sort of story you expect to see at Christmas and I imagine it’ll play well when it runs on the UP Network on December 15, 2013.

Cathy and I were excited to hear about it because the current President of Paulist Productions — Fr. Eric Andrews — is the President Elect of the Order.  Even if it was a brief glimpse of him on the news, it was nice to see and hear him.

— Dad