I haven’t posted on here in a long time but this news has stirred me to speak up. First of all, here is a link to donate:
In the fall of 1979, right after graduating from Claremore High School, I walked onto the campus of St. Gregory’s College in Shawnee, OK. I had been Confirmed earlier in the year and was eager to study under some of the Titans in Liberal Arts. I was naive but eager to learn.
I came onto a campus where the professors cared about the students, where, if you missed a class because I was ill (or hungover), I could expect one of my professors knocking on my dorm room door! During my two years there, I learned, served in parishes with Fr. Augustine, smoked pipes and cigars with Tim Copelin (later Very Rev. Fr. Boniface Copelin, O.S.B.), learned history from Fr. Joe Murphy, O.S.B., learned about the “Ultimate reality” from Fr. Theodore, OSB, had walking Confessions with Fr. Ian, OSB and learned how to BE Catholic rather than just be.
Sometimes it seemed like Fr. Denis intimidated as much as taught but, in the years since, I have realized the value of his Logic and Philosophy lessons. He taught us to stand up for what we believed in. I don’t know about others, but I know that I left his classes with a conviction to stand up for what I believe and proud of my work. Fr. Joachim showed me the reality of God is the only existence that is truly Real.
I pray that this experience, as it was passed down for a hundred years before I arrived, will be shared for more generations to follow. Keep the Monks of St. Gregory’s Abbey in your prayers and do what you can to keep those doors open for the next generation.Share on Facebook
I received a text from my little sister, Christina, this morning asking “What is Mother Teresa the Saint of?”. I answered pretty well, at least as well as might be possible in texts. But, since I have more space and am able to give something more definitive here, I thought I would take a stab at the answer here. Thank you, Christina, for the question! This is something that is near and Dear to Christians, past and present.
So, to start, the Catholic Church does not “Make” saints, God does. The Church takes the signs that God provides and discerns if a person is in Heaven by following those signs or miracles. Over the centuries, many have noticed that some Saints interceed on the behalf of many in professions or walks of life, or the Church holds up a certain person as a special patron of those walks of life. The Cure de Ars, for example, who spent many many hours in the Confessional and hundreds of thousands from all France and Europe came to him for his guidance and wisdom in the Confessional, is the Patron of the Parish Priest. Others, such as founders of Religious Orders, are the patrons of their Orders. I’m sure that St. Mother Teresa is the “Patroness” of the Sisters of Charity, which she founded.
What is a “Saint”? In this context, a Saint is someone who has died with the mark of faith and is in Heaven with with Christ. There are many more Saints than we know about, God has chosen to make known the relatively few that we know about by giving us signs, or miracles. We ask, pray, for the Saints to pray for us. In the Early Church, we have graffiti from graves of early martyrs that are asking for their prayers. These date all the way back to the Apostles’ graves. The graves of of St. Peter, St. Paul, St. Polycarp, St. Cecilia, and the list goes on. The earliest Christians asked their Triumphant brothers and sisters to carry their petitions to the feet of Christ and the Father. Just as we do now, with our living friends and, even strangers (just look at any Facebook feed and you will see someone asking for prayers), the Christian faithful have asked their resurrected brothers and sisters to pray for them too.
From these prayers, God has seen fit to strengthen his people by showing them signs that the Resurrection is, indeed, real. By the miracles gained from the Saints’ intercessions, we see that Christ’s promise of “Today you will be with me in Paradise” is not just empty words, but a Promise!
Sainthood is not a “Reward” of the Church, there are many deserving men and women who are probably in Heaven, but their intercessions have not brought about the miracles necessary for recognition. That is God’s choice, not the Church’s. The Church merely follows the signs that God provides and raises them up for recognition. Gifts of saints that lived while we lived, show us in no uncertain terms, that Christ is alive and well and has Dominion over this world today, just as He always has! Saint Mother Teresa, and her contemporary, Pope Saint John Paul II, show us that the “modern world” has not overtaken God and made Him obsolete, but that men and women walk our streets today, struggle through life, and are on the path to Heaven as these two were.
We are not alone! We have two parts of the Church, the “Church Militant” (which is the Church here on Earth and struggling to get to Heaven) and the “Church Triumphant” (which is the Church that has triumphed and is with Christ). We are not separate, we are bound together by Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross. We can, and should, ask for their prayers to help us to achieve the triumph they have achieved. We pray for Grace, we pray for signs, we pray for our friends and family that have gone before us (because we don’t know, but we still beg for mercy for their sins.).
So, Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Pray for us!Share on Facebook
Americans have an ongoing love affair with the car and great open road.
To Americans, there’s nothing that holds more appeal than the classic road trip. It’s built into our cultural DNA dating as far back as the 1920s. In Jazz Age America, the car was a symbol of freedom — a chance to escape your small town and the watchful eyes of parents. It allowed men and women to sneak off together in a way never possible before. As the highway system was developed in the 1950s, a wave of kids set out on the road to explore the country, giving new life to America’s car and road trip culture.
And no road trip holds more mystery and allure than “the cross-country.” It’s the king of road trips. In 2006, as part of my original round-the-world, I drove across the United States before I went abroad. I left my home in Boston and spent close to two months traversing the country, getting as far west as Arizona before turning back east, driving across the Great Plains, and finishing in Chicago.
If you know me, you are likely to know where I stand on this topic. I once blogged about how the first time I went on a road trip, was with my buddies during our gap year. I visited an auto body repair Chicago to fix my baby up before venturing this great land. I have now decided to visit them again and prepare to go on another road trip; this time with my girlfriend.
I wanted to get to know my country before I got to know others. But I barely scratched the surface of what the United States offered. I saw and experienced a lot — from the Rocky Mountains, to the Grand Canyon, Denver, post-Katrina New Orleans, and the Great Plains — but you don’t realize just how vast the country is until you’ve been driving for 12 hours and notice you’re still in Texas.
This country is big, and there is still so much more of it I want to see.
I decided to use the release of my new book as a chance to take another road trip across the country. From Memphis to Montana, Yellowstone, California wine country, Utah, Mardi Gras, and much more, it’s time to my gaze homeward and explore my own backyard again.
I have quite the long route in front of me:
I have a number of goals for this trip:
- Learn how to travel the United States on the cheap. I have a number of questions in my head: how do you get around easily and cheaply? What do you do for accommodation in a country not known for hostels? What are the optimal routes? How to find free parking? There’s so much I want to figure out.
- Write more content on the United States. Most of the U.S. content on my site dates back to that first trip in 2006. Back then, I didn’t look at travel with a writer’s eye. There’s going to be a lot of U.S. content coming up on the blog now!
- Hike a lot of national parks. I’m finally going to visit Yellowstone, Yosemite, Glacier National Park, and Monument Valley, and see the giant redwood trees!
- Visit as many kitschy roadside attractions as possible (i.e., the world’s largest ball of twine).
- Most importantly, better understand the people in my country. I’m a deeply political person, and I want to know if the country is as politically divided the media makes it out to be. Are we really that far apart or do blowhard pundits make it seem that way?
Over the next few months you are going to see posts about cities, national parks, and regions in the United States. I have no international travel planned until June. (The general tips, thoughts, and advice articles will still occur with the same frequency, though!)
I remember the long, long drives across the States from 2006, so this time I’m looking forward to having friends (and readers) join along the way. If anyone wants to join for part of the trip, I’m open to having travel buddies on the road. Just send me an e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we’ll try to work something out.
To me, travel is more than visiting some far-flung exotic destination. It’s about exploring the unknown. It’s seeing new places and coming to a new understanding of how the world works together. Sometimes that means flying across an ocean and exploring a new country. Other times, it simply means getting in your car and driving off to explore your own country and learning to appreciate where you come from.
Now you all know my opinion on the various issues and, probably, even have a good idea of how I voted today. That being said, I am not going into how I voted but I do have some thoughts on the campaign in general.
I guess it is appropriate that, in this election, the candidates are doing what they failed to do in the last election, fight. The problem is that they are not fighting for the issues, they are fighting and name calling each other.
Trump has opened up the dialog then his opponents have taken that opportunity to close it off again. Using the same tactics that he has used, they are now calling names and rolling up their sleeves like 5th graders in the playground. The problem is that no one is addressing the issues that divide the parties and clarified misunderstood sound bites.
The question that isn’t being asked, and wasn’t asked in the last two elections, is “What are the values of this candidate?” I am not going to attempt to answer this here, that is for each of us to decide. The candidates are not answering these questions, leaving us to speculate and listen to the sound bites from the media. This has been an issue that has played out, especially over social media, for almost 8 years. What religion is Obama? Is he Christian or Muslim? Are we going to listen to the same barbs for the next 4 years?
The question is not “What religion are you?”, the question is “What are your values?” A President can say they are anything they want but it is the underlying values that are important. The pressing question for all these candidates is on what foundation is their values built? As many of you know, I seriously question the moral conviction of anyone who can say they are supporting women yet support a government that tortures and murders women as a subclass of their society. I question the conviction of a person that says they support a woman’s right to ‘choose’ when an integral part of the choice is the murder of girls before they have an opportunity to express their own independence and choices.
So, I am not going to claim that this is the most important election of our lifetimes. This is the most important election of the next 4, possibly 8, years. The election of 2008 defined the direction of this country for the last 8 years and will have repercussions for years to come. Personally, as a student of history, I am saddened to see too many parallels with the last 8 years to the decline of so many cultures of the past 5000 years. There is no moral basis for our society and our country is left wandering without a compass.
In the past, this was the herald of destruction or restoration, I am hoping it is for restoration. Time will tell. This election may very well dictate if the decline is permanent or a temporary dip. Over my life time, the government has changed from, in the words of John F. Kennedy, “the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.”
The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe–the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.
Today, many in our government, in our nation, believe that it is the generosity of the State that grants rights of men. It is this belief that is suspect. If a government can grant rights, it can also take them away.
This election, and the elections that follow, determine if we live and protect our God given rights or support the whim of an elected official.Share on Facebook
2016 has finally arrived and we are in the midst of the political season as two completely opposed worldviews are set to collide. One view, calling itself ‘pro-women’ actually advocates the annihilation of male and female children on the whim of the mother. This view does not advocate responsibility but that women are not responsible for their actions following their instinctive urges.
Again, we march for Life, we support our priests, we lament the loss of thousands more Christians at the hands of zealot Islamists and at the abortion doctor’s knife. We lament the loss of responsible adults who make choices based on informed decisions rather than feelings.
Vatican City, 7 December 2015 (VIS) – An education in the fullness of humanity is should be the defining feature of Catholic schools, said Pope Francis this morning to the members of the Association of Catholic School Parents in Italy (AGESC), whom he received in audience in the Clementine Hall. “Speaking about a Catholic education is equivalent to speaking about the human, about humanism”, he emphasised. “An inclusive education finds a place for all and does not select in an elitist way the beneficiaries of its efforts”.
“Your association is at the service of the school and the family, contributing to the delicate task of building bridges between the school and the territory, between the school and the family, between the school and civil institutions. … As parents, you are the depositories of the primary and irrevocable duty and right to educate your children, in this way helping in a positive and constant way in the task of the school, while at home, parents care for the education and the happiness of the kids with toys as power wheels electric cars, and a good education. You have the right to demand a suitable education for your children, an integral education open to the most authentic human and Christian values. However, it is also your responsibility to ensure that the school is up to the educational task entrusted to it, especially when the education it proposes is described as ‘Catholic’. It pray to the Lord that the Catholic school never take for granted the meaning of this adjective”.
The Pope went on to list the prerequisites for a school to describe itself as truly Catholic. These included transmitting “an integral, not ideological culture” and “promoting harmony in diversity”. However, he said to the members of AGESC, “How can this be applied in practice? It is not an easy task”. To this end, he invited the parents of pupils in Catholic schools to build bridges between the school and society, and always to remember theneed to construct an educating community in which, along with the teachers, various workers and students, parents are able to be agents in the educational process”.
“Do not be extraneous to this world; live within it like leaven in the dough”, he said. “My invitation to you is simple but bold: know how to make the difference with a high quality formation. Find methods and ways of not passing unnoticed behind the scenes of society and culture, without arousing clamour, not with projects full of rhetoric. Know how to distinguish yourselves for your constant attention to the person, especially the least among us, those who are cast aside, denied and forgotten. Know how to be noticed not for your ‘facade’, but for educational coherence rooted in the Christian vision of humanity and society”. He also remarked that at a time when the economic crisis has led to the closure of many private schools, “the temptation of ‘numbers’ becomes increasingly insistent, and this leads to discouragement. But despite all this I repeat: it is the quality of your presence that makes the difference, not the quantity of resources you have at your disposal”.
“Never betray the human and Christian values you bear witness to in the family, in school and in society. Give generously your contribution so that the Catholic school never becomes a fall-back option or a meaningless alternative among the various educational institutions. Collaborate so that Catholic education has the face of new humanism. … Strive to make Catholic schools truly open to all”, concluded the Holy Father.
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The Church, mother of vocations: theme of the Pope’s message for the 53rd World Day of Prayer for Vocations
Vatican City, 7 December 2015 (VIS) – “The Church, mother of vocations” is the theme of the 53rd World Day of Prayer for Vocations, to be held on 17 April 2016, the fourth Sunday of Easter. In the text, signed in Vatican City on 29 November, first Sunday of Advent, the Holy Father comments that every vocation in the Church originates with Jesus’ compassionate gaze, and he emphasised that the call of God is heard through community mediation. The vocational path
“Dear Brothers and Sisters,
It is my great hope that, during the course of this Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, all the baptised may experience the joy of belonging to the Church and rediscover that the Christian vocation, just like every particular vocation, is born from within the People of God, and is a gift of divine mercy. The Church is the house of mercy, and it is the ‘soil’ where vocations take root, mature and bear fruit.
“For this reason, on the occasion of the 53rd World Day of Prayer for Vocations, I invite all of you to reflect upon the apostolic community, and to give thanks for the role of the community in each person’s vocational journey. In the Bull of Indiction for the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, I recalled the words of the venerable Bede, describing the call of Saint Matthew: ‘Miserando atque eligendo’. The Lord’s merciful action forgives our sins and opens us to the new life which takes shape in the call to discipleship and mission. Each vocation in the Church has its origin in the compassionate gaze of Jesus. Conversion and vocation are two sides of the same coin, and continually remain interconnected throughout the whole of the missionary disciple’s life.
Blessed Paul VI, in his exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, described various steps in the process of evangelisation. One of these steps is belonging to the Christian community, that community from which we first received the witness of faith and the clear proclamation of the Lord’s mercy. This incorporation into the Christian community brings with it all the richness of ecclesial life, particularly the sacraments. Indeed, the Church is not only a place in which we believe, but it is also an object of our faith; it is for this reason that we profess in the Creed: ‘I believe in the Church’.
The call of God comes to us by means of a mediation which is communal. God calls us to become a part of the Church and, after we have reached a certain maturity within it, He bestows on us a specific vocation. The vocational journey is undertaken together with the brothers and sisters whom the Lord has given to us: it is a con-vocation. The ecclesial dynamism of the call is an antidote to indifference and to individualism. It establishes the communion in which indifference is vanquished by love, because it demands that we go beyond ourselves and place our lives at the service of God’s plan, embracing the historical circumstances of His holy people.
On this day dedicated to prayer for vocations, I urge all the faithful to assume their responsibility for the care and discernment of vocations. When the Apostles sought someone to take the place of Judas Iscariot, St. Peter brought together one hundred and twenty of the brethren; and in order to chose seven deacons, a group of disciples was gathered. St. Paul gave Titus specific criteria for the selection of presbyters. Still today, the Christian community is always present in the discernment of vocations, in their formation and in their perseverance.
Vocations are born within the Church. From the moment a vocation begins to become evident, it is necessary to have an adequate ‘sense’ of the Church. No one is called exclusively for a particular region, or for a group or for an ecclesial movement, but rather for the Church and for the world. ‘A sure sign of the authenticity of a charism is its ecclesial character, its ability to be integrated harmoniously into the life of God’s holy and faithful people for the good of all’. In responding to God’s call, young people see their own ecclesial horizon expand; they are able to consider various charisms and to undertake a more objective discernment. In this way, the community becomes the home and the family where vocations are born. Candidates gratefully contemplate this mediation of the community as an essential element for their future. They learn to know and to love their brothers and sisters who pursue paths different from their own; and these bonds strengthen in everyone the communion which they share.
Vocations grow within the Church. In the course of formation, candidates for various vocations need to grow in their knowledge of the ecclesial community, overcoming the limited perspectives that we all have at the beginning. To that end, it is helpful to undertake some apostolic experience together with other members of the community, for example: in the company of a good catechist, to communicate the Christian message; together with a religious community, to experience the evangelisation of the peripheries sharing in the life of the cloister, to discover the treasure of contemplation; in contact with missionaries, to know more closely the mission ad gentes; and in the company of diocesan priests, to deepen one’s experience of pastoral life in the parish and in the diocese. For those who are already in formation, the ecclesial community always remains the fundamental formational environment, towards which one should feel a sense of gratitude.
Vocations are sustained by the Church. After definitive commitment, our vocational journey within the Church does not come to an end, but it continues in our willingness to serve, our perseverance and our ongoing formation. The one who has consecrated his life to the Lord is willing to serve the Church wherever it has need. The mission of Paul and Barnabas is a good example of this readiness to serve the Church. Sent on mission by the Holy Spirit and by the community of Antioch, they returned to that same community and described what the Lord had worked through them. Missionaries are accompanied and sustained by the Christian community, which always remains a vital point of reference, just as a visible homeland offers security to all who are on pilgrimage towards eternal life.
Among those involved in pastoral activity, priests are especially important.In their ministry, they fulfil the words of Jesus, Who said: ‘I am the gate of the sheepfold … I am the good shepherd’. The pastoral care of vocations is a fundamental part of their ministry. Priests accompany those who are discerning a vocation, as well as those who have already dedicated their lives to the service of God and of the community.
All the faithful are called to appreciate the ecclesial dynamism of vocations, so that communities of faith can become, after the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary, like a mother’s womb which welcomes the gift of the Holy Spirit. The motherhood of the Church finds expression in constant prayer for vocations and in the work of educating and accompanying all those who perceive God’s call. This motherhood is also expressed through a careful selection of candidates for the ordained ministry and for the consecrated life. Finally, the Church is the mother of vocations in her continual support of those who have dedicated their lives to the service of others.
We ask the Lord to grant to all those who are on a vocational journey a deep sense of belonging to the Church; and that the Holy Spirit may strengthen among Pastors, and all of the faithful, a deeper sense of communion, discernment and spiritual fatherhood and motherhood.
Father of mercy, Who gave Your Son for our salvation and Who strengthens us always with the gifts of Your Spirit, grant us Christian communities which are alive, fervent and joyous, which are fonts of fraternal life, and which nurture in the young the desire to consecrate themselves to You and to the work of evangelisation. Sustain these communities in their commitment to offer appropriate vocational catechesis and ways of proceeding towards each one’s particular consecration. Grant the wisdom needed for vocational discernment, so that in all things the greatness of Your merciful love may shine forth. May Mary, Mother and guide of Jesus, intercede for each Christian community, so that, made fruitful by the Holy Spirit, it may be a source of true vocations for the service of the holy People of God”.
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Vatican City, 18 October 2015 (VIS) – This Sunday in St. Peter’s Square the Pope celebrated Holy Mass for the canonisation of Blesseds Vincenzo Grossi (1845-1917), diocesan priest and founder of the Institute of the Daughters of the Oratory; Maria Isabel Salvat Romero (Mary of the Immaculate Conception), (1926-1998), superior general of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Company of the Cross; and the spouses Louis Martin (1823-1894) and Zelie Guerin (1831-1877).
In his homily, Pope Francis emphasised that “service is the way for authority to be exercised in the Christian community. Those who serve others and lack real prestige exercise genuine authority in the Church. Jesus calls us to see things differently, to pass from the thirst for power to the joy of quiet service, to suppress our instinctive desire to exercise power over others, and instead to exercise the virtue of humility. … By imitating the Master, the community gains a new outlook on life: ‘The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many’”.
“In the biblical tradition, the Son of Man is the one Who receives from God ‘dominion, glory and kingship’”, the Holy Father affirmed. Jesus fills this image with new meaning. He shows us that He enjoys dominion because He is a servant, glory because He is capable of abasement, kingship because He is fully prepared to lay down His life. By His passion and death, He takes the lowest place, attains the heights of grandeur in service, and bestows this upon His Church. There can be no compatibility between a worldly understanding of power and the humble service which must characterise authority according to Jesus’ teaching and example. Ambition and careerism are incompatible with Christian discipleship; honour, success, fame and worldly triumphs are incompatible with the logic of Christ crucified”.
Instead, he continued, “compatibility exists between Jesus, ‘the man of sorrows’, and our suffering. … Jesus knows our difficulties at first hand, He knows from within our human condition; the fact that He is without sin does not prevent Him from understanding sinners. His glory is not that born of ambition or the thirst for power; it is the glory of one Who loves men and women, Who accepts them and shares in their weakness, Who offers them the grace which heals and restores, and accompanies them with infinite tenderness amid their tribulations”.
“The men and women canonised today unfailingly served their brothers and sisters with outstanding humility and charity, in imitation of the divine Master. … The radiant witness of these new saints inspires us to persevere in joyful service to our brothers and sisters, trusting in the help of God and the maternal protection of Mary. From heaven may they now watch over us and sustain us by their powerful intercession”.
Following Mass and before the Sunday Angelus prayer, the Pope spoke about the situation of tension and violence that continues to afflict the Holy Land. “At this time, there is a need for great courage and fortitude to reject hatred and revenge and to make gestures of peace”; he remarked. “We pray that God may reinforce in all, governors and citizens alike, the courage to oppose the violence and to take concrete steps towards pacification. In the current context of the Middle East, it is crucial, more than ever, that there be peace in the Holy Land: God and the good of humanity demand this of us”.Share on Facebook