Saturday, January 30, 2010

Pagan Origins of the Catholic Church?

Q - Thank you for your wonderful bog. Would you be able to help me out with a question? Someone I know insists the Christian/Catholic faith started with pagan practices. They recently wrote to me:
"the Catholic religion practiced anywhere, paganisn is very much infiltrated within the religion. Eveything about Caltholism is pagan in organ. Also some Christian practices are also. Christmas and Easter...."

I realize pagan beliefs and practices do go on in Haiti as well as some other traditionally Catholic areas of the world, but I don't know how the bishops put up with this or what they can do to stop it. It seems to be really embedded in these places and I also would add many Christians/Catholics are into experiences with New Age, crystals, et al. which, of course, is superstition.

Thanks for your help!

A -
Thanks for the questions.  The first thing you ought to do, if you haven't already, is ask where the person is coming from.  What kind of belief system do they hold to?  What sources of information did they use to come to the conclusion that all of Catholicism is pagan in origin?  Was it good history?  Why do they trust it?

These kind of vapid accusations get thrown around, but without any bite to them.  Let us examine just a little bit of it.

First of all they condemn all Catholicism because there are some who take the name of Catholic and then pervert or twist it to mean mostly anything.  But, this is a false premise.  We should never throw the baby out with the bathwater.  For instance, if I said that all people in Houston are crooks because I got robbed there, then I am dealing in a false argument.

Next they sometimes find a similar practice to Catholicism and then make the conjecture that the pagan practice must be the origin of the Catholic practice.  But, again, this isn't always the case.  If I can find that ancient Romans worshiped statues, it doesn't mean that Catholics do now or that our practice of having statues in our churches makes us pagan idol worshipers.

Ultimately the persons making such claims are usually dealing in bad arguments and even worse history (if we even call it history).  One Protestant pastor who wrote a very popular book with just these kind of accusations recanted them in 2005, took the book out of print and apologized for his errors.  You can read an article he wrote for Catholic Answers here.  Note that he never became Catholic or gave up his ministry, in fact his ministry suffered from taking the book out of print, but he did it anyway.

For some more details on the origins of such accusations, read this article.

As for what the Bishops could do about it, I am sure they do all they can to put a stop to it.  I know New Orleans has some history of voodoo and I know Archbishop Aymond would never want it practiced by any Catholics in his archdiocese, but he can't force someone to stop (and he would never want to force them to - though he might ask them to).  Pray for our bishops and those that twist the faith with pagan practices.

On the other side of the equation, there are some inaccuracies that even some Catholics buy into.  For instance, it is a common mistake to think that Christmas finds it's origin in a Pagan holiday.  This isn't true.  In fact, the Church fixed the date as Dec 25th to battle against paganism, which celebrated a pagan festival this time of year.  So, rather than being pagan, Christmas is anti-pagan!  Scripture even speaks of other instances of "baptizing" certain practices to bring them to a Godly practices.  For instance, the feast of Tabernacles that was celebrated by the Jews (which Jesus celebrates as a Jew) was set on the Jewish calendar to oppose a pagan feast day.

I hope this helps.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The REAL Flying Nun

The real flying nun jumps out of planes - Sr. Agnes in Houston.
In a follow-up to this post about Sr. Jane Meyer, who challenged her school to raise $25,000 for CRS’ Haiti relief by vowing to jump from an airplane if they hit their target, we have this note from the daring Sister:

I think I am “up in the air” – we just finished counting the money today and we are at more than $40,000. We are sending a check tomorrow. Pray that I don’t have a “heart attack” as I ascend and jump! Why did I say “yes”? Because I believe in Catholic Relief Services and I believe that we have a responsibility to help Haiti. If that motivates people to give “I’m in.” I have been so blessed and given so much so, I constantly remember: “To whom much is given, much is expected in return.” I am preparing for my jump and I want my message to motivate others. We will hit over $50,000, I know. The competition is fierce among classes. Anyway, I am beginning to get in training!
Blessings,
Sr. Jane

Football? Um, no...

Yesterday I posted about a commercial that Tim Tebow and his mother will be in during the Super Bowl.  The commercial tells their story of how Pam Tebow decided not to have an abortion, against doctor's recommendations, because she chose her son's life over her own (though it all turned out fine for both).  The situation has caused a stir that has overshadowed the game itself, in some quarters.  Now the story gets even worse.

Nancy Northup, of the President Center for Reproductive Rights, has sent a letter to CBS calling Pam Tebow a liar. She claims that it would have been impossible for Pam Tebow to have the option of getting an abortion in the first place, because she was in the Philippines at the time of her pregnancy. As CMR commented:
Let's get this straight. The Center for Reproductive Rights is calling Tim Tebow's mother a liar because she's saying that an abortion was recommended to her in a country where abortion is illegal.

Are these people so insane that they can't believe a woman turned down an abortion? I know. I know. With all the fringe benefits of abortion including a lifetime of guilt, depression, higher risk of suicide, increased chance of infertility and cancer who could say no to an abortion, right?

And CRR's logic falls apart in that aren't they the same ones who say if you make abortion illegal, the same number of abortions would still occur but they'll be performed illegally and dangerously? In one of their own documents they say, "The Court's decision in Roe v. Wade all but ended the back-alley and self-induced abortions that once killed hundreds if not thousands of women each year."

But wait?! Abortion was illegal in this country before that, right? So how did all those women die? So, I guess, abortions still take place even when it's illegal, huh? I mean, did they not see Vera Drake?
But, the craziness gets even worse, because this has become such a big deal, that another issue has completely been ignored.

As CMR points out - the halftime show will have The Who performing. This is a group who is headed up by a man caught with child pornography.

In other words, a man who admitted to having child porn is not controversial at all, while a woman who decided to CHOOSE to keep her baby is a scandal. I know a lot of other women that kept their babies - the mothers of all who think keeping a baby is crazy-talk.

Does anyone else want to scream???

IPhone Tour of the Vatican Museums

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Tim Tebow and the Superbowl


What a ruckus!  If you haven't heard, Tim Tebow and his mom, Pam Tebow, will be appearing in a commercial that Focus on the Family has produced about the story of Pam's choice to give birth to Tim, even in a high-risk pregnancy (read more on her story here).  The commercial will air during the Superbowl and some are not happy about it.

The commercial is being challenged by NOW and other pro-abortion groups.  They have made the claim that the ad is "anti-choice" and are asking for the commercial to not be aired by CBS.

Let us examine this charge for a minute.  If someone decides to choose life for their baby, thus exercising a choice, they are now "anti-choice" because they think their choice it was a good one and one they recommend to others???  Not only that, but they are also pushing a hateful agenda on America and should be ashamed of themselves?  This is how low we have sunk, that saying having a baby is hateful?

Here are some other comments from the NOW president:
NOW President Terry O'Neil told the Associated Press that the planned ad is "extraordinarily offensive and demeaning."

"That's not being respectful of other people's lives," O'Neill said. "It is offensive to hold one way out as being a superior way over everybody else's."
In other words - the only non-offensive way to express a choice is to agree with abortion being the greatest good. It is offensive to think your opinion is better than others, unless your opinion agrees with the president of NOW. Hypocrisy!

If you want to get even more off the reservation comments on this subject then you should read about Joy Behar's remarks and Carl Olson's take on this subject.

Bump - The Show

There is a new web-based show that started recently called "Bump". Instead of describing it myself, I will quote their own description and give some commentary after.
BUMP+ The Experiment is an attempt to determine whether story can succeed where nearly four decades of angry rhetoric and political posturing have failed.

Inspired by President Obama’s call to people on both sides of the abortion debate to open the lines of communication and find workable solutions to the problem of unintended pregnancies, Yellow Line Studio is starting that conversation inside the safety zone of a fictional world based on real life situations.

Is our society willing to give it a try? How authentic are these characters? And how serious are we about an open, honest exploration of this controversial topic?

You tell us. Please.

The BUMP pilot premieres January 22, 2010. We can’t predict how it will end because we’re waiting for your input to finish the upcoming episodes.

That’s right – their choice is up to you.

Full disclosure: we’re thinking outside the ballot box here. (Real life isn’t that simple; and, besides, haven’t we all had enough of politics clouding this complicated issue?) We’ll be crafting the episodes to reflect the ongoing discussion on our website boards, so sign in and start talking. We can’t have a conversation by ourselves. Please be kind, though; and remember that we’ve already heard every argument on both sides. In this forum, we’re looking for authentic stories, honest communication, and – hopefully – a continuing dialog. We may even incorporate your experiences into future episodes; but no matter what, you have our promise that your feedback will determine the final decisions for our characters.

Watch the episodes. Share your story. Join the conversation. Their choice is (really) up to you
I have some serious problems with this concept.  The show is being done to start a conversation, but the issue I have is with the concept itself.  Should such a thing be left up to viewers, even if fictional?  Should a decision this big be made based on mere dialog alone without objective truth entering in?  Have you really "heard every argument"?

Their intent might be good, but I don't like the means.  Am I wrong?  Watch the first episode (below) and let me know.  I am not the only one who has reservations about this (see here and here for some others).

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Spiritual But Not Religious?

Q - A friend recently told me that she is not so much interested in a religion as she is with a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and walking with him. We discussed it a bit and it seems like it mostly comes down to vocabulary and jargon. I read your post about spirituality vs religion but it talked a lot about spirituality that is not Christian. What if someone is spiritual and Christian, but doesn't consider themselves "religious"? I've never understood how you could have one without the other.


A - Thanks for the question.  There are several types of people who describe themselves as "spiritual but not religious".

The first kind are non-Christian ( I focused on this group in my previous post on this topic you referred to above).  They may identify with some kind of higher power, but their belief system is quite nebulous.

The second kind of people you might find who make such statements are Christians who are quite sincere in their desire to have a personal relationship with Christ, but want to do so without the perceived "baggage" that comes with the idea of being "religious".  Now, if you look at the root of what being religious means, you won't find the baggage in the word itself.  The definition of religious is:
1. of, pertaining to, or concerned with religion: a religious holiday.
2. imbued with or exhibiting religion; pious; devout; godly: a religious man.
3. scrupulously faithful; conscientious: religious care.
4. pertaining to or connected with a monastic or religious order.
5. appropriate to religion or to sacred rites or observances.
6. a member of a religious order, congregation, etc.; a monk, friar, or nun.
7. the religious, devout or religious persons
So, the negativity associated with the word doesn't have to do with these definitions or any other objective reality.  Rather, it has to do with the perception that there is a rigidity and a formalism that doesn't translate into true transformation of hearts in religious practice.  Certainly someone can go to church (any church) and not have a relationship with Christ.  But, religion doesn't have to be the cause of such problems.  Thus, they are making a dichotomy out of spirituality and religion - spirituality has to do with a personal relationship with God and religion is an institutional and man-made construct that keeps us from a true relationship with God.  This is simply a false dichotomy.  This understanding has grown stronger since the emergent church movement has picked up steam and post-modernism, eastern prayer, etc. has crept more and more into Christianity.

Religion is not bad - it is good.  Religion should be personal.  Religion is when we choose to be bound to God, and if we base religion on such a definition we can see how religion is never a negative thing and in fact how someone can never be spiritual but not religious.

In modern evangelical Christianity (especially in the emergent church movement) this statement can be translated into - "I am a Christian who doesn't subscribe to a particular church or denomination's understanding of doctrine or structure.  I am the only one who can authoritatively interpret Scripture for me. I love God and think that the rules aren't for everyone."

They might compare a "religious" person to a Pharisee, who only cares about rules, while the followers of Christ wanted more than just rules.  Again, this is a false dichotomy, because Jesus had all kinds of rules, including the fact that he called 12 men to run his Church in a particular manner.

To be "spiritual" isn't enough.  A pagan, a witch, a Christian, or a devil-worshiper can all be spiritual and not subscribe to any religious practices.  The bible in fact says that religion is a good thing, but it should be a pure kind of religion.
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, his religion is vain. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
-James 1:26-27
In other words a religion that isn't enfleshed and lived out does us no good and can become Pharisaical.

In the same manner a spirituality that doesn't have any kind of religion as a guide runs the risk of being self-centered, feel-good, anything-goes, and/or false.

To be spiritual and religious - that is what it means to be in the heart of Christianity - the Catholic Church.
I hope this helps.

What is The Sunday Mass Obligation?


Q - My question is about what the Sunday obligation for worship is. I used to think it was one had to recieve communion but I don't think this is correct, is it? Isn't the obligation to attend mass, not receive Communion? Is it acceptable to attend another Christian church? Last Sunday I attended Mass and then went  to a "community church" service with a friend, which was a quite different experience. Frankly, I found the experience to be lacking in liturgy,which was quite disappointing, and the obvious absence of the Eucharist left me feeling as though I had just attended a Wed. night praise and worship service and not church - thoroughly enjoyable and uplifting but nothing truly substantial.


A - Thanks for the questions.  Your instincts are right on track and while I will answer your questions about the obligations that we have as Catholics, the Church (and Christ) want us to desire more than just fulfilling our obligations. From your questions, I know that you do desire more than just fulfilling your obligations, and you are just asking the questions for the sake of clarification.

Catholics have obligations to meet in regards to both attending Mass and receiving Communion, but unlike what many Catholics believe, they are not necessarily the same thing.  This obligation began with the ancient Israelites - "Remember to keep holy the sabbath day."

1 - Catholics are obligated to attend Mass on every Sunday and Holy Days of Obligation.
2 - Catholics are obligated to rest (spiritually and physically) from labor on these same days.
3 - Catholics are obligated to receive Communion once a year (Easter Duty).

So, it isn't that we have to receive Communion every time we go to Mass.  In fact, there are too many people who are receiving in most parishes.  Why do I say this?  Because not every Catholic is spiritually disposed to receive Communion.  To receive Communion we must be in good standing with the Church, free from any impediments to receiving Communion (e.g. divorced and remarried without Church an annulment), be baptized, and be in the state of grace (i.e. no unconfessed mortal sins).

There is nothing wrong with going to a non-Catholic church as long as you fulfill your obligation by going to Mass.  A non-Catholic church service would not fulfill your obligation.  It is no surprise that you didn't find the other service fulfilling.  That is because our longing for the grace we receive in the Eucharist can be fulfilled in no other manner.

I hope this helps.  Here are some past posts that might shed more light on these issues:
**Why Can't Non-Catholics Receive Communion in a Catholic Church?
**What is The Sabbath Rest?
**Does Having an Infant Excuse One From Sunday Obligation?
**How Is Jesus Present In The Eucharist?
**The Eucharist and Grace.

Video of Our New Bishop

Bishop Vásquez's installation will be March 8 at St. William Parish in Round Rock.

From KXAN:


From the Statesman.


Fox 7


More video here and here.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tuesday News

**A new book about JPII is out.  There are some insights that some might find a bit disturbing.  I will comment on them in the coming weeks.


**A scientist thinks science proves there is life after death.  I am not so sure science can prove such things.

**Some bad news.  Teen pregnancy and abortion are on the rise.

**Cool Catholic News.  Most of the priests (70% - 5,000 of about 7,000) of the Philippines are going on retreat together at one time.

**Eric Sammons makes a good point about how to grow in holiness.

**Mark Shea offers some advice on how to make a good confession.

**The Vatican will raise money for Haiti with a new stamp.

Fr. Italo and the Vatican

Fr. Italo Dell'Oro, who is a part-time campus minister here as well as the vocation director for the Somascans in Houston, made a presentation to the Vatican Fifth World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees in 2003.  I found a transcript of the presentation posted on the Vatican website.  Pretty cool.  Here is a snip:

We framed our efforts in a threefold model which we called, “our Triptych”. It was the combination of the works of the heart (liturgy), the mind (religious education and Catholic Social Teaching) and the body (works of charity). Such model, which I derived from a booklet by Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk, helped us to focus more clearly on the celebration of the parish feast day of the Assumption, by making it the symbol of the entire pastoral activity. Hence the three moments of the Feast Day: the parish Bazaar, symbolizing the Body; the Convention, consisting of a presentation by a special speaker – a bishop, a seminary professor, etc., symbolizing the Mind; and the liturgy of the Vigil of the Assumption – procession and Eucharist, usually with one of Houston’s bishops presiding, was the Heart. Thus, all parish activities revolved around the threefold model and would lead each parishioner to feel and be a member of one community, certainly as diversified as the civic community, and yet, united and interconnected in solidarity by the same faith.

So, from a practical standpoint, we began focusing on the dignity of liturgies – not that they were to be necessarily perfect, but simple and according to the rubrics. A simple, yet well celebrated Eucharist must both reflect and inspire the life of a community, and not presume a perfection which is not there, or be offered with a casual approach that trivializes it. Hence, building upon the methodology, already in practice at both the diocesan and parish levels, of celebrating bilingual masses, we chose a few occasions that would symbolize our hoped for unity and at the same time would not be too much of a burden to either of the two main linguistic groups. These were Holy Thursday, Easter Vigil, the Vigil of Pentecost, the Vigil of the Assumption, and the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

WE HAVE A NEW BISHOP!

Habemus Episcopum!
(We have a bishop!)

This morning Pope Benedict XVI named Auxiliary Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, as fifth Bishop of the Diocese of Austin.

From the Austin Diocese press release:
Pope Benedict XVI has named Auxiliary Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston as Bishop of the Diocese of Austin. Bishop Vásquez will be the fifth bishop of Austin and the first Mexican-American to lead the diocese.

"I wish to thank Pope Benedict XVI for the confidence he has placed in me in naming me shepherd of the Diocese of Austin," he said. "I also offer prayers of gratitude this day for Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, Archbishop Emeritus Joseph A. Fiorenza and the priests, religious and laity of the Archdiocese for forming me as a bishop. Most of all, I give thanks to God for the gift of priesthood, which has brought me such joy for 25 years. I trust in the Holy Spirit to enlighten me for this next step in my journey."

The Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S., Archbishop Pietro Sambi, made the announcement in Washington on Tuesday morning.

Bishop Vásquez, 52, was ordained as a bishop in January 2002 and has served as Galveston-Houston’s auxiliary bishop since then. Since 2006, Bishop Vasquez has been the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston's Vicar General/Chancellor, overseeing the administrative operations of the largest diocese in Texas and the 11th largest diocese in the U.S. He has also served as Episcopal Vicar for Hispanics and he has been the Archdiocesan Liaison for Youth during his years in Galveston-Houston.

Bishop Vásquez was born July 9, 1957 in Stamford, Texas to Juan and Elvira Vásquez (deceased). He is the oldest child and has three brothers: Robert Vásquez, Samuel Vásquez (deceased) and James Vásquez and two sisters: Cynthia Martínez and Consuelo Elrod. He attended public schools in Stamford and Abilene and then studied theology at the University of St. Thomas in Houston from 1976 to 1980. He attended the Gregorian University, North American College, in Rome from 1980 to 1985. He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of San Angelo on June 30, 1984 by Bishop Joseph A. Fiorenza.

In the Diocese of San Angelo he served as associate pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Odessa from 1985 to 1987; as pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Fort Stockton from 1987 to 1997 and as pastor of St. Joseph Parish in San Angelo from 1997 to 2002.

The Mass of Installation will be March 8 at a yet-to-be determined location.

Bishop Vásquez succeeds Bishop Gregory Aymond who was appointed Archbishop of New Orleans by Pope Benedict XVI last year. Since that time, Msgr. W. Michael Mulvey has been leading the diocese as Administrator. On Jan. 18, Pope Benedict XVI named Msgr. Mulvey as Bishop of Corpus Christi.

The Diocese of Austin includes 127 parishes and missions in 25 Central Texas counties spread over 19,000 square miles. There are approximately 500,000 Catholics within the diocese.

Monday, January 25, 2010

What Are You Doing This Summer???

College.  A time to expand your horizons.  Now is the time to take a risk and stretch yourself, because the longer you wait, the less opportunities you will have to do so.  With this in mind I ask you - what will you do this summer?  Most college students either find a summer job, go to school, or both.  Others take trips.  Still others will try and make a difference with the time they have away from the normal semester schedule.  What if instead of going to school or getting a summer job back home you decided to take an adventure?

Why not?


Here are a few suggestions, and by no means is this an exhaustive list, of things you might do this summer as a volunteer, short-term intern, job, etc.

1 - Take a short-term mission trip with a volunteer organization.  Some include:
  • Missioners of Christ - in Honduras and the USA (we are taking a group to Honduras at Spring Break with them.
2 - Summer Camps and summer work with youth:
3 - Teach English:
4 - Other volunteer opportunities (a short list - for more visit CNVS):
5 - Train to be an evangelist:

6 - Do pro-life work:


**There are, of course, thousands of other opportunities as well, both short-term and long-term.  If you have other suggestions, please post them below.

Lost Generation?

Go. Spread the Gospel. Blog.


From the Pope's World Communication's Day message. Here PBXVI is speaking about the need to spread the Gospel message to the culture:
Responding adequately to this challenge amid today's cultural shifts, to which young people are especially sensitive, necessarily involves using new communications technologies. The world of digital communication, with its almost limitless expressive capacity, makes us appreciate all the more Saint Paul's exclamation: "Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel" (1 Cor 9:16) The increased availability of the new technologies demands greater responsibility on the part of those called to proclaim the Word, but it also requires them to become more focused, efficient and compelling in their efforts. Priests stand at the threshold of a new era: as new technologies create deeper forms of relationship across greater distances, they are called to respond pastorally by putting the media ever more effectively at the service of the Word.

The spread of multimedia communications and its rich "menu of options" might make us think it sufficient simply to be present on the Web, or to see it only as a space to be filled. Yet priests can rightly be expected to be present in the world of digital communications as faithful witnesses to the Gospel, exercising their proper role as leaders of communities which increasingly express themselves with the different "voices" provided by the digital marketplace. Priests are thus challenged to proclaim the Gospel by employing the latest generation of audiovisual resources (images, videos, animated features, blogs, websites) which, alongside traditional means, can open up broad new vistas for dialogue, evangelization and catechesis.

Using new communication technologies, priests can introduce people to the life of the Church and help our contemporaries to discover the face of Christ. They will best achieve this aim if they learn, from the time of their formation, how to use these technologies in a competent and appropriate way, shaped by sound theological insights and reflecting a strong priestly spirituality grounded in constant dialogue with the Lord. Yet priests present in the world of digital communications should be less notable for their media savvy than for their priestly heart, their closeness to Christ. This will not only enliven their pastoral outreach, but also will give a "soul" to the fabric of communications that makes up the "Web".
Read the rest.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Coalition For Clarity

Red Cardigan and Mark Shea have put together a nice coalition of Catholic bloggers called the Coalition for Clarity.  It is a group that is on the side of the Church in a contentious issue.  The issue:

TORTURE IS ALWAYS AN INTRINSIC EVIL.  




There is no justification for torture, even the "tough cases".


The Coalition for Clarity aims to bring moral clarity to the issue.
Therefore, Aggie Catholics gladly signs up.

Life


From the two men who brought down a totalitarian government, they both spoke about another threat to freedom - true freedom.
"We will stand up every time that human life is threatened. When the sacredness of life before birth is attacked, we will stand up and proclaim that no one ever has the authority to destroy unborn life. When a child is described as a burden or is looked upon only as a means to satisfy an emotional need, we will stand up and insist that every child is a unique and unrepeatable gift of God, with the right to a loving and united family."
~ Pope John Paul II, Homily at the Holy Mass at the Capital Mall, October 7, 1979 ~

"Abraham Lincoln recognized that we could not survive as a free land when some men could decide that others were not fit to be free and should therefore be slaves. Likewise, we cannot survive as a free nation when some men decide that others are not fit to live and should be abandoned to abortion or infanticide."
~ Ronald Reagan

Friday, January 22, 2010

Oakland A's Prospect Leaves to Become a Priest

A very cool story.

Rob Fai isn’t surprised that Oakland A’s prospect Grant Desme is ending his baseball career to enter the priesthood.

The timing? To him, that’s the shocking thing.

Desme is leaving the game at a time when his fortunes seemed to be rising fast. He batted .288 with 31 home runs and 89 RBIs in 131 games last year. Then he starred in the Arizona Fall League, where some of the game’s top prospects compete. He likely would have started this season at Class AA.

“Here’s a kid that’s on the brink,” Fai said over the phone from Vancouver, B.C., where he works as the assistant general manager for the Oakland affiliate there. “This would probably be an easier decision for someone who was maybe going through the motions in the minors.

“But if you know Grant, the spiritual side of his life has always been a priority. I don’t know if there was a tipping factor that made him wake up and say, ‘Today’s the day.’”

Regardless, today is the day: As first reported by FOXSports.com, the 23-year-old star prospect has informed the A’s that he will retire and become a priest. -Continue reading

Austin's New Bishop


It looks like Austin's new Bishop will be named soon.  From Bishop-elect Michael Mulvey (Austin's current diocesan administrator), who was named Bishop of Corpus Christi on Monday:
I will continue to act as administrator of the Diocese of Austin until a new bishop is appointed for Austin. The Mass of Ordination and Installation will be in Corpus Christi on March 25.
Based on this information, I suspect we will hear something in the next 4-6 weeks.

Roe v. Wade Anniversary Today


Please pray for those who are marching for life in different cities across the country this weekend, including Washington DC (the largest march for life) and the march and rally in Austin, TX (many Aggies will be there).

The USCCB has asked for special prayers and fasting on this day.

In DC there is a rally for life in the Verizon Center as well as a Pro-Life Mass and vigil in the Basilica of the National Shrine.  Tens of thousands attend both on the eve of the march, which will draw many more (well over 100,000). Rocco has more on the national walk.

If you can't make any of these, you can join the virtual march for life.

Fr. Barron on Apocalyptic Literature

A Vatican Tradition I Didn't Know About

Thursday, January 21, 2010

News and Such

*Hollywood's latest blasphemy.

*Cardinal Mahoney, the Archbishop of L.A., may have a successor named soon.

*Pope Benedicts XVI's second book on Jesus is done and will be out soon.

*Mark Shea tells us about eternal security.

*Does God exist?  Some say yes.

Tim Hawkins Makes Me Cry

He kills me.

Prayer Request - College Students Still Missing in Haiti

From an email from the Catholic Campus Ministry Association.
As you are aware, a devastating earthquake took place in Haiti January 12. Twelve students and two faulty members from Lynn University (Boca Raton, Florida) were participating in the university’s service-learning trip, “Journey of Hope-Haiti”*, last week when the earthquake hit.

Eight of the students have returned to Lynn University, but there are still four students and two faculty members missing. Please keep in your prayers the four remaining students, Stephanie Crispinelli, Courtney Hayes, Christine Gianacaci, and Britney Gengal; and the two missing faculty members, Patrick Hartwick, PH.D., dean of Ross College of Education, and Richard Bruno, MD, assistant professor, College of Liberal Education.

Regular updates on the search for the students and faculty are provided on Lynn’s website, http://www.lynn.edu/alert.

Lynn University students are keeping up a prayer vigil by lighting candles in front of campus every evening until all members of the campus community have returned home from Haiti.

Benedict XVI on Abortion



"Children have the right to be born and to grow in the midst of a family founded on matrimony, where the parents are the first educators of children in the faith and where they can grow to full human and spiritual maturity,"
"Children are the major richness and the most precious good of a family. For this reason, it is necessary to help all people to be aware that the intrinsic evil of the crime of abortion, which attacks human life at its beginning, is also an aggression against society itself,"
"Relations between States and within States are just in so far as they respect the truth....When, however, the truth is offended, peace is threatened and rule of law is compromised, then, as a logical consequence, injustices arise."

"These injustices can adopt many faces. For example, the face of disinterest or disorder, which can even go so far as to damage the structure of that founding cell of society that is the family; or perhaps the face of arrogance that can lead to abuse, silencing those without a voice or without the strength to make themselves heard, as happens in the case of today's gravest injustice, that which suppresses nascent human life."
To women who have had abortions:
“Do not let yourselves be consumed by discouragement and do not abandon hope. Know how to understand, rather, that which has happened and interpret it in its truth....If you have not already done so, open yourselves with humility and confidence to repentance: The Father of all mercy awaits you to offer you his forgiveness and his peace in the sacrament of Reconciliation. You can offer your child to the same Father and his mercy.”

“Only in the attitude of merciful love, can we draw near and bring succor and allow the victims to stand up and return to the journey of existence.”

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Coalition for Life News


From an email from Shawn, 2 big news items:
LISTEN TO SHAWN & ABBY SHARE DETAILS ON FOCUS ON THE FAMILY

Focus on the Family will be airing a two-part radio show about the conversion of Abby Johnson on Thursday, January 21, and Friday, January 22 to a worldwide audience.

Their special Roe v. Wade show will feature Shawn Carney and former Planned Parenthood abortion center director Abby Johnson, interviewed by Focus on the Family's president.

This show will air on 2,000 radio outlets in the United States and will also be available for online listening.
To find a radio station near you, visit:

http://listen.family.org/findastation

**********************************************************

"BEING HUMAN" TV SPECIAL AIRS WORLDWIDE ON EWTN ON FRIDAY

The award-winning "Being Human: 40 Days for Life" pro-life documentary will be shown worldwide on the EWTN cable television network this week.

Episode II specifically highlights the 40 Days for Life campaign. It features interviews with local and national leaders and airs Friday, January 22 at 5:30 PM Central.

Houston Abortion Protest

Thousands showed up on Monday.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Baby Without Brain Turns 1

An amazing story of life.  A baby born without a brain (only has a brain stem) survives to see his first birthday.

Haiti Update

From my sister-in-law.  Hard to believe that they sent home an accomplished neurosurgeon and an orthopedic surgeon, who have experience in the mission fields.  But, this is how bad Haiti has gotten:
Greg and his 2 companions are now on their way to Sanford AFB outside of Orlando, FL via military transport out of Port-au-Prince. Unfortunately they were told there was nothing for them to do in Port-au-Prince and they should go home. It is so hard for me to believe they would turn away medical help!! Please continue to pray for the remaining team members, most of whom also left for Port-au-Prince and 4 who stayed in Jacmel. We have limited communication abillities with them and so are unsure of their plans. However, all Americans wanting out of Port-au-Prince will be given military transport to Florida. It appears that coordination of efforts to help in Haiti are extremely chaotic. They need your prayers!

Haiti Update - More Prayers Needed

I asked yesterday for prayers for my sister-in-law's husband, a doctor, who flew to Haiti to try and help.  He is very frustrated with the situation right now.  Please pray for him.  Here is an update:
The team landed in Jacmel this morning about 11:30. Jacmel has one main road in and out of the city which has been cut off completely so there has been minimal response to this area. Dave is able to text me and said things are so much worse than anticipated. So many broken, with hospital which is completely nonfunctional. The Canadians, who are already there along with the UN, are flying in a portable OR within the next couple of days, so the team will be triaging patients today and tomorrow in anticipation of the OR arriving and being able to start operating.

PLEASE CONTINUE TO PRAY, and pass this information on.

As I was writing this Dave called on the satellite phone. They are in desperate need of more orthopedic supplies and operating room equipment, and any air transport to drop it. If you are reading this and have any connections that maybe of service to the in Jacmel, please call me at 281-808-1326. They are in a very isolated area but there is an operating runway at the airport
Some other news from Haiti:
**Cruise ships still visiting Haiti (in heavily guarded private beaches)? Yup.  I find it revolting, even if they are bringing some "aid".  True aid would be allowing Haitians to sleep on-board or to work as an off-shore hospital...

**Please ask Venerable Pierre Toussaint, born a slave in Haiti, to pray for his homeland.

**Haiti has many needs right now - food, water, basic health care, shelter, etc.  Planned Parenthood thinks they need contraception and condoms, so they are asking for donations to provide such basic things...wow.

You Need To Know

Some things you need to know (and a few you don't):


**This week the annual March for Life takes place in DC as well as many other locations.  The second biggest one is now on the West Coast.  Pray for the marchers.  We will have a group going to Austin for the state wide march and rally at the capital on Saturday.

**Fr. Dwight Longenecker goes all parody on us.  Nicely done.

**Want to read some bad history mixed with even worse theology?  Here you go.

**It seems a pro-life message from Tim Tebow during the Super Bowl has many people upset.  Can't please everyone and we shouldn't try to.

**Toby Maguire as Bilbo Baggins in the new Hobbit movie?  Looks that way. Thanks to Mark for the tip.

**Ali Agca, who shot JPII, is now free from prison.  In addition to pondering multi-million dollar deals to tell his story, it looks like his mental health is now in question after declaring himself the Christ.  JPII pray for him.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Prayer Request

Please pray for my sister-in-law's husband (my wife's sister's husband - there is no word in English for our relationship) Greg and his best friend, who are doctors, and another friend who is a builder. They arrived in Jacmel, Haiti this morning to offer their help and will be there for at least a week. Thank you!

Pray that others might be able to reach the people of Haiti in time to help the many people in need right now.
While Greg has done medical mission trips into other countries (including Cuba and Mexico), this is beyond anything he has seen before.
Here is what Greg and others will be dealing with in Haiti:

A 16 Year-Old To Root For

If you watch American Idol and need someone to root for, here is your girl.
Even if you don't watch, you should watch this clip.

More background from CNA.
Curtis’ mother Barbara is a pro-life blogger and a columnist who converted with her family to Catholicism from Evangelicalism.
Tip O' the hat to CMR.

Msgr. Michael Mulvey Named Bishop...



...of Corpus Christi.  Msgr. Michael Mulvey, the current Diocese of Austin Administrator (the temporary caretaker of the diocese until we get a new bishop) was named the Bishop of Corpus Christi this morning.  Msgr. Mulvey is a good man and our loss is their gain.  He was the right hand man of Archbishop Aymond for many years and had just started as Vice-Rector of St. Mary's seminary in Houston before he was voted in as Administrator by his brother priests.

Msgr. Mulvey is well-respected and has a good vision for evangelization and the Church's priorities.  He is a leader in the Focolare movement and is fluent in Italian.  Whenever he and our Italian sisters start talking, I can't understand a word they say.

After studying in Rome (at Angelicum and Gregorian) he was ordained by Pope Paul VI in 1975.  Given several important positions in the Diocese of Austin (including being the pastor of our sister parish - St. Thomas Aquinas in College Station), he was appointed Chancellor and Vicar General of the diocese because of his administrative and pastoral skills.

An interesting note about when Austin might get a new bishop comes from the diocesan press release, and is pointed out by Rocco of Whispers in the Loggia.
The first Corpus pick named to the diocese without prior episcopal experience since 1921, Mulvey will be ordained and installed on Annunciation Day, 25 March. According to the Austin church, he will remain administrator there "until a new bishop is appointed"....

Complete the sentence.
Pray for whomever is appointed Bishop of Austin and pray for Msgr. Mulvey.  It might be sooner than we thought.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Headlines and Links

Some interesting links/headlines:


**A new archaeological find has some scholars believing that some Old Testament books were written much earlier than first thought.

**Dawn Eden has some good thoughts about what it means to suffer, from a Catholic perspective.

**Leon Suprenant ran the numbers on Confession and realized we need it more often with more priests to really serve the needs of our parishes.  Lucky for us we have it scheduled 10 times a week here at St. Mary's.

**Pope Benedict XVI is still hoping for unity with the SSPX.

**Mark Shea points out things we laugh at that we aren't supposed to.

**While you are still praying for Haiti (The Anchoress has some great insights), pray also for Christians in the Holy Land and the Middle East.

**Archbishop Dolan on the Catholic response to the Haiti disaster.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help, patron of Haiti, pray for us!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Donate For Haiti In Mass This Weekend

The Diocese of Austin has asked all parishes to take up a collection for Catholic Relief Services (which does phenomenal work as a relief agency).  St. Mary's will be participating in this collection.  So, if you want to give in an easy way, bring extra money with you this weekend to give in the second collection.

Don't forget to pray for the people of Haiti.  They need it.  Things are getting worse, not better.

There is a lot of despair and violence in the streets.  Not to mention the government was corrupt already and now can't control what looks like anarchy.

From the Diocesan Administrator, Msgr. Michael Mulvey:
“Our hearts go out to our brothers and sisters on the island of Haiti. We join the global family in responding to their spiritual and physical needs with our prayers and through our pledges of monetary support,” said Msgr. Michael Mulvey, administrator of the Diocese of Austin. We ask that all parishes take up a special collection this weekend, Jan. 16-17 for the relief effort in Haiti. The collected funds will be given to Catholic Relief Services. To donate to Catholic Relief Services directly, call 1-877-HELP-CRS or visit www.crs.org.

Friday Fun

Tim Hawkins is a very funny man.

Assigning Blame

Well, Pat Robertson said the Devil caused the earthquake.
Now, Danny Glover says that global warming did it.
Why, in the midst of such tragedy do we need to assign blame?  Why can't we just try to help?
It must be the fact of our fallen human nature.  We have been doing it since Eden...

Fr. Barron on Avatar

Very nice commentary on Avatar. Fr. Barron, as usual, is spot on.
Warning - there are some spoilers in this video.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

New Abortion Center in Houston

As I briefly mentioned earlier this week, Planned Parenthood is planning on opening their new "supercenter" soon.  It will be the largest abortion clinic in the nation, when open.

Pro-life leaders in the Houston area have called on national pro-life leaders to help them fight this building.  Thus, the Houston Coalition for Life (based on the model started here in Bryan / College Station) has started to protest the building along with many other groups. A website has been set up to be the center of all of the groups coming together to fight the building.

The local Houston news has caught wind of the issue as well.

Please pray for Houston and an end to abortion.

From an email from the local Coalition for Life:
NEW PLANNED PARENTHOOD WILL BE LARGEST ABORTION FACILITY IN WORLD

At this moment, the largest abortion clinic in the world is being built in the Lone Star State -- right in the middle of Houston.

This facility will be equipped to do abortions at 24 weeks!

Join us and thousands from across Texas for a huge prayer rally and march on January 17th & 18th to oppose the opening of this facility later this spring.

The Call in Crisis Event starts at 6 PM on January 17 with four hours of fasting and prayer at Grace Community Church in Houston.

On the morning of January 18, a silent march will begin at the Catholic Charismatic Center and end at the building site of the new Planned Parenthood abortion facility.

The press conference and prayer rally that will include:

* TONY PERKINS, president of the Family Research
Council

* SAMUEL RODRIGUEZ, president of the National Hispanic
Christian Leadership Conference

* BISHOP HARRY JACKSON, senior pastor of Hope
Christian Church

* RICHARD LAND, president of the Ethics and Religious
Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist
Convention

* STAR PARKER, president of the Coalition for Urban
Renewal and Education

* ABBY JOHNSON, the former director of our Planned
Parenthood in Bryan, TX

* And one BIG surprise!

Here are the details:

SUNDAY, JANUARY, 17

6:00 PM - 10:00 PM

Grace Community Church
South Campus
14505 Gulf Freeway
Houston, TX 77034

MONDAY, JANUARY 18TH, 2010

9:00 AM

Catholic Charismatic Center
1949 Cullen Blvd.
Houston, TX 77023

If you can make one or both of these events please arrive early as this shapes up to be the largest pro-life event in the history of Texas!

Yours in Christ,

Shawn Carney
Executive Director
UPDATE: check out this video describing the issue:


Even More - Jill Stanek has found a strange triangle between pro-life groups, Planned Parenthood, and PETA in Houston.

One Catholic's Response to Pat Robertson

If you haven't heard about it yet, televangelist Pat Robertson had the audacity to state that the reason for the earthquake in Haiti was because the people of Haiti had struck a deal with the devil (video at the end of this post).  I quote:
they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, "We will serve you if you will get us free from the French." True story. And so, the devil said, "OK, it's a deal."

And they kicked the French out. You know, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other. Desperately poor. That island of Hispaniola is one island. It's cut down the middle. On the one side is Haiti; on the other side is the Dominican Republic. Dominican Republic is prosperous, healthy, full of resorts, et cetera. Haiti is in desperate poverty. Same island. They need to have and we need to pray for them a great turning to God. And out of this tragedy, I'm optimistic something good may come. But right now, we're helping the suffering people, and the suffering is unimaginable.
This is not only bad theology, but it is irresponsible.  I know that there are many good people who watch Pat Robertson and follow his teachings, but I would like to respond from an orthodox Christian - and Catholic - perspective on the situation, not only because falsehoods should be corrected, but because there are many people who are enraged by his comments, both Christian and non-Christian.

1 - The devil is very real, but he does not have unlimited power over the world.
The Catechism says:
''The power of Satan is, nonetheless, only finite. He is only a creature, powerful from the fact that he is pure spirit, but still a creature. He cannot prevent the building up of God's reign" (CCC, 395).
The devil is a fallen angel and a powerful spiritual being.  His hatred of God and good things is what drives him to seek out the fall of humans and their eternal suffering in hell.  His power is demonstrated in the Sacred Scriptures when we see demonic possession of humans (e.g. Mk 1:21-28; Lk 4:31-37; Mt 8: 32-33; etc.), the tempting of Christ (Matt 4) as well as many other references of demonic activity.  The primary way he manifests his power is through temptation of humans to sin.  We have all experienced temptations and the struggle that goes along with it, though not all are from demons - some are from our own fallen nature and passions.  To deny that the devil has power is to allow him a victory over us. Charles Baudelaire once said that the devil's greatest trick was to convince us that he does not exist. Yet, his power is not unlimited and he cannot force us to hell, we have to choose it.

One of several extraordinary way the devil works is through what is sometimes called "local infestation" (others are through possession and personal infestation). This is when the devil has direct contact with non-human parts of the created world such as plants, animals, or inanimate objects. This can lead to physical harm, but it is not the cause of natural disasters, but local (think relatively small) areas or objects. When the final tribulation of the earth comes, the devil will be released to have a much broader ability to work in the created world (Rev 20).

2 - Natural Disasters are a Result of Original Sin and a Fallen World
We live in a world that is fallen.  This means that the original plan of unity and peace has been broken.  All of creation is crying out for redemption (Rom 8:19-22) and awaits the coming of Christ to end all suffering, sin, brokenness, death, and disunity.  All of the world suffers because of the fall and thus we have inexplainable tragedies that happen, like this earthquake.

Problems arise when we try to assign an actor behind the tragedy as the cause to the tragedy.  Some say God uses natural disasters to chastise his people and bring them to repentance.  While there is biblical precedence to such an act, we cannot know for certain God has actively willed anything, unless He directly tells us so.  Some others say the devil caused a natural disaster as punishment for their selling out to him, as is the case with Robertson here.  The problem is that we do not know, in this life, the meaning behind many of the things that happen in our world.  God allows them all, and for good reason, but may not reveal these reasons to us.  What we can do is rest our hopes on God's almighty providence - He knows what is best for us.
From the Catechism:
"The witness of Scripture is unanimous that the solicitude of divine providence is concrete and immediate; God cares for all, from the least things to the great events of the world and its history. The sacred books powerfully affirm God's absolute sovereignty over the course of events: "Our God is in the heavens; he does whatever he pleases."162 And so it is with Christ, "who opens and no one shall shut, who shuts and no one opens".163 As the book of Proverbs states: "Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will be established." (CCC 303).
To try and find meaning to such disasters is to try and explain the mind of God.

3 - Pat Robertson Needs a History Lesson.
He made several errors.  Napoleon III had nothing to do with the formation of Haiti. The Haitians revolted the same time the French did, during Napoleon I's reign. Also, there are many other details that he gets wrong and then he cites a legend, with no basis in real history, as the cause.  Read here for more on how he messed up.

Conclusion.
Pat Robertson has bad theology, little common sense, and is making a presumption that he knows the mind of God, all based on bad history, legend and innuendo.

Don't listen to him.  Listen to the one who was guaranteed not to lead us into error - Holy Mother Church guided by the Holy Spirit.

Pray for Haiti.
Pray for Pat Robertson.
Send money or assist in other ways if you can.



UPDATE: CBN has issued a statement defending Robertson.

Archbishop Niederauer Corrects Nancy Pelosi

It has been known for a while that Archbishop Niederauer has been in private conversation with Nancy Pelosi about her fervent support for abortion, same-sex marriage, and a multitude of other issues that are contrary to Catholic Church teaching.  Now, Archbishop Niederauer has a column correcting some of the public statements Pelosi has made about the Catholic faith. Several snips, although I recommend a full reading.:

human freedom does not legitimate bad moral choices, nor does it justify a stance that all moral choices are good if they are free: “The exercise of freedom does not imply a right to say or do everything.” (The Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1740) Christian belief in human freedom recognizes that we are called but not compelled by God to choose constantly the values of the Gospel—faith, hope, love, mercy, justice, forgiveness, integrity and compassion.

It is entirely incompatible with Catholic teaching to conclude that our freedom of will justifies choices that are radically contrary to the Gospel—racism, infidelity, abortion, theft. Freedom of will is the capacity to act with moral responsibility; it is not the ability to determine arbitrarily what constitutes moral right.
Pelosi has defined freedom as the ability to choose whatever one wishes. This isn't true freedom and Archbishop Niederauer is spot-on.
More...
What, then, is to guide the children of God in the use of their freedom? Again, the bishops at the Council provide the answer—conscience: “Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in his heart at the right moment . . . . For man has in his heart a law inscribed by God . . . . His conscience is man’s most secret core and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths.” (GS, No. 16) Conscience, then, is the judgment of reason whereby the human person, guided by God’s grace, recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act. In all we say and do, we are obliged to follow faithfully what we know to be just and right.

How do we form and guide our consciences? While the Church teaches that each of us is called to judge and direct his or her own actions, it also teaches that, like any good judge, each conscience masters the law and listens to expert testimony about the law. This process is called the education and formation of conscience.

Catholics believe that “the education of conscience is a lifelong task.” (CCC, No. 1784) Where do we go for this education of our consciences? Our living tradition teaches us that “In the formation of conscience the Word of God is the light for our path; we must assimilate it in faith and prayer and put it into practice. We must also examine our conscience before the Lord’s Cross. We are assisted by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, aided by the witness or advice of others and guided by the authoritative teaching of the Church.” (CCC, No. 1785)
Another error is believing that following your conscience is enough. While this is true, it doesn't mean that one can't have a faulty conscience. Therefore, we must continue to be formed according to the truth as proposed by the Catholic Church. This isn't being a slave or robot, but using freedom (as properly defined above) to choose what is true, good, and beautiful. Not just anything we want.
Tip o' the hat to OSV Daily Take.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Pray and Donate

The death toll and reports of destruction from Haiti are getting worse and worse.  Please offer many prayers, penances, and money if you can.  Haiti is the poorest country in our hemisphere and this isn't going to help.  We have a moral obligation to help these brothers and sisters in their time of need.  Please give to Catholic Relief Services or other organizations helping (the Anchoress lists multiple ways you can donate).  A vast majority of Haitians are Catholic.  To see a visualization of the disaster, the Boston Globe has pics that will rock you.

This is one of the worst natural disasters of our lifetime:
Archbishop Auza stated his observations of the situation in the capital to Fides, saying, "Port-au-Prince is totally devastated. The cathedral, the archbishop's office, all of the big churches, all of the seminaries have been reduced to rubble."

The nuncio said that the resident priest at that cathedral had informed him of the likely death of Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot as he was buried under rubble along with hundreds of priests and seminarians. Other news reports confirmed that the archbishop did pass away in the earthquake.

Auza reported that many government buildings had been razed. All of the Ministry buildings but one were on the ground, as were the Presidential Palace and the schools.
Then Pat Robertson does the unthinkable and says the reason this happened is because Haiti struck a deal with the devil. Unfortunately, I am not kidding.  Pray for him as well.

10 Things to do to Promote Vocations To The Priesthood & Religious Life

The interim director of the Office of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB, Fr. David Toups, offers this nice reflection for us.
Ten Things That Promote Vocations
By Father David Toups

For all Catholics:
  1.  Pray for an increase in vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life. Jesus says in Matthew 9:38 “to beg the master of the harvest to send laborers into the vineyard.” If we want more priests, sisters and brothers, we all need to ask.
  1. Teach young people how to pray. Pope Benedict XVI said that unless we teach our youth how to pray, they will never hear God calling them into a deeper relationship with Him and into the discipleship of the Church.
  1. Invite active young adults and teens to consider a vocation to the priesthood or consecrated life. A simple, sincere comment should not be underestimated. An easy way to do this can be remembered by four letters: ICNU. “John, I see in you (ICNU) the qualities that would make a good priest, and I want to encourage you to pray about it.” It is a non-invasive way to encourageopenness to a religious vocation.
  1. Make it attractive. Show the priesthood for what it truly is – a call to be a spiritual father to the whole family of faith. Similarly, the consecrated life for a young woman is a call to be united to Christ in a unique way, and to be a spiritual mother to those she encounters in her life and service. The challenge for priests and religious is to be joyful models of their vocations.
  1. Preach it, brother! Vocations must be talked about regularly if a “vocation culture” is to take root in parishes and homes. This means, first and foremost, the people need to hear about vocations from priests through homilies, prayers of the faithful, and discussions in the classroom. Vocations kept out of sight are out of mind.
For those considering a vocation:
  1. Practice the faith. We all need to be reminded that the whole point of our lives is to grow in a deep, intimate and loving relationship with God. This is the first step for any young person desiring to discern any call in life.
  1. Enter into the Silence. Silence is key to sanity and wholeness. We can only “hear” the voice of God if we are quiet. Take out the ear buds of your iPhone, iPod, and iTunes and listen to God, the great I AM. Young people should try to spend 15 minutes of quiet prayer each day – this is where you can begin to receive clear direction in your lives.
  1. Be a good disciple. Some bishops say, “We do not have a vocation crisis; we have a discipleship crisis.” Young people can become true followers of Jesus Christ by serving those around them. By discovering your call to discipleship, you also discover your particular call within the Church.
  1. Ask God. Ask God what He wants for your life and know He only wants what is good for you. If, in fact, you are called to the priesthood or consecrated life, it will be the path to great joy and contentment.
  1. In the immortal words of a famous sneaker manufacturer: “Just do it!” If you feel that God is inviting you to “try it out,” apply to the seminary or religious order. Remember, the seminary or convent is a place of discernment. You will not be ordained or asked to profess vows for many years, providing ample opportunity to explore the possibility of a call to priesthood or religious life.