Martha, Martha

As Catholics, we try to balance in our lives of faith the active Martha and the contemplative Mary. Sometimes in the process Martha gets a bad rap. She’s anxious and worried about many things (Luke 10:41), so at times we might picture her as a frantic busybody flitting about, doing 101 things, while the serene Mary sits at the feet of Jesus.

But today is the feast of Saint Martha. She is a full-fledged saint, with all the rights and privileges that go with it!  While activism without prayer can quickly turn into mere workaholism; prayer without active apostolate also lacks authenticity. 

At this exciting time in the Church, priests, religious, and laity are called to roll up our sleeves and actively participate in the great work of the new evangelization. There’s plenty to do to keep all of us Martha’s busy.

May we imitate the faith of St. Martha, who said, “I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God” (John 11:27). And, like St. Martha, may we express this faith in active works of charity.

As we do so, we must keep in mind the clear teaching of Scripture. Our Lord said that Mary chose the better part, the one necessary thing (Luke 10:42). Our Lord is truly present at every Mass and in every tabernacle throughout the world. If we truly desire to be saints, to become the holy men and women God calls us to be, we do well–frequently and with much love and devotion–to return to the Source: Jesus, Our Eucharistic Lord.

I think St. Martha would wholeheartedly agree.

Facebook Monk

In a recent Alaska Dispatch article entitled, “Messaging Catholic monk keeps it real on Facebook,” we learn about the evangelization efforts of Brother John Mary Ignatius, a member of the Belgium-based Community of St. John.

Inspired by Pope Benedict’s exhortation to use the new means of social communication to advance the Gospel, Brother Ignatius reaches thousands of people, mostly youth, through his Facebook page. His approach is authentic and inviting, and his vibrant message is one of joy and hope, which draws young people to Christ.

More for Your Vocation

Last week at Rome Reports there was an intriguing video highlighting the vocation efforts of the United States bishops, especially a new series of videos at the Bishops’ For Your Vocation website.

I just visited the For Your Vocation website, and on this occasion I visited their blog and several other pages. What struck my attention this time (I hadn’t noticed it previously) was this vocations quiz–a series of questions to help young people go deeper in their discernment. And of course the site provides information on the upcoming vocations fair at World Youth Day, including the schedule of events.

Worthy of Life

From the current issue of the Brookings (SD) Register, check out the story of Sr. Janice Iverson, who this month celebrates her 50-year jubilee as a Benedictine sister. Hers has been a full life of service to Christ and His Church.

What my sons found especially interesting, though, were her athletic exploits, and to this day she still rides her bike in the morning and spends an hour on the treadmill in the evening.

Not unlike St. Paul, she summarizes her many years of Christian discipleship in athletic terms: “For every beginning there is an end. I have entered the race and finished. I live that I may be worthy of life.”

U.S. Bishops to Hold Vocations Fair at WYD

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will host its first-ever Vocation Fair at a World Youth Day (WYD) on Wednesday, August 17. St. Francis Borgia Parish in Madrid will host the event. 

“This is a tremendous opportunity to invite our youth to open their hearts to Christ and respond to his call to the priesthood and the consecrated life,” said Archbishop Robert Carlson of St. Louis, Missouri, chairman of the Bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations. 

Recent surveys of the newly ordained and those making their final religious profession indicate that at least 20 percent of them participated in a WYD one time or another. Continue reading U.S. Bishops to Hold Vocations Fair at WYD

Mother Teresa, CEO?

Check out this thought-provoking article on Mother Teresa of Calcutta that appeared earlier this month in The Wall Street Journal.

The article examines a new book entitled, Mother Teresa, CEO: Unexpected Principles for Practical Leadership. The book’s thesis is that Blessed Teresa’s work with the Missionaries of Charity ranks as one of the greatest business achievements in human history, and that business leaders today can learn much from this modern-day saint.

Of course we would prefer that our contemporaries focus on Blessed Teresa’s heroic sanctity, not her business acumen. But perhaps her greatness in secular terms will lead some open-minded young leaders to investigate what made this little nun tick.

And then who knows what would happen next?

The Other Lawrence

Today is the feast of St. Lawrence of Brindisi. When reference is made to a “St. Lawrence,” however, we usually think of  the third-century deacon and martyr who is even mentioned in the Roman Canon (Eucharistic Prayer I). This latter St. Lawrence, given his special patronage of those who barbecue, is indeed a fine summertime saint in his own right, but his feast isn’t till next month.

Today’s St. Lawrence (1559-1619) was a Capuchin Franciscan priest who led, even by secular standards, a most remarkable life. One commentator has gone so far as to call him “the greatest man and the greatest saint yet produced by the Capuchin Franciscan Order.” Surely the excellence of his preaching was recognized by Blessed John XXIII, who named him a Doctor of the Church in 1959. Continue reading The Other Lawrence

The Unconsecrated Single Life

Catholic author Emily Stimpson published companion articles at OSV Newsweekly last week on the single life. The first one is entitled “Being single in the universal Church,” while the second one is entitled, “Is the unconsecrated single life a vocation?

These thoughtful pieces explore the growing phenomenon of single Catholics. Is there such a thing as a “vocation” to the single life? Is it necessarily a mere “transitional” phase before marriage, priesthood, or consecrated life? And how effective is the Church in reaching out to single Catholics?

These questions are not as easy as one may think at first blush, and Stimpson does an excellent job of setting forth legitimate Catholic perspectives on the subject. Do our readers have any insights on this subject to share?

What’s So Special About This Woman?

This is a photo of Mrs. Elizabeth Anikuzhikattil, mother of 15 children, who died last week at the age of 94  in her home in southwestern India.

That alone is pretty special, but there’s even more: Of her 15 children, six became priests, and four became religious sisters! For more on this remarkable woman, including quotes from several of her children, check out this article, courtesy of Spirit Daily.

Nightline on Consecrated Virgins

photo courtesy of ABC News

Did you happen to catch the episode of ABC’s Nightline on consecrated virginity last week? Check it out here

The show casts consecrated virginity as “controversial” and of course views it from a secular perspective (e.g., the narrator at one point says that the consecrated virgin’s spouse–in other words, Christ–is “nowhere to be found”).

All things considered, though, I thought it was well done, and they treated the subject with due respect. What did you think?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (nos. 922-24) devotes three paragraphs to consecrated virgins, who are betrothed mystically to Christ and are dedicated to the service of the Church.