What do you ask of God and His Church?

Four Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus from Corpus Christi, TX, had reason to celebrate in July. First, there was the Religious Profession of novice Sister M. Clare of St. Michael (left), an entrance into Postulancy of twin sisters (!) Susan Redlinger and Laura Redlinger and the Renewal of Vows of Sister M. Teresa Margaret of the Blessed Sacrament. Twin sisters entering religious life together is really something!

The Carmelites in Corpus Christi were founded by Blessed Maria Teresa of St. Joseph (Anna Maria Tauscher(b. 1855)) who died in the Netherlands in 1938.  They serve God, the Church, and neighbor by means of prayer, atonement, and  active charity.  The charism of Carmel is very Marian.  Carmel is Mary’s Order and they venerate her as their Mother and Queen.

To experience the joy of three other Carmelites from the same order pronounce their perpetual vows (July 2011) in Kirkwood, MO, see this beautiful video. Brought a lump to my throat.

Buy Local (Monastery)

Here is a wonderful picture of Fr. Cassian Folsom, OSB, the recipient of the IRL’s 2012 Pro Fidelitate et Virtue Award, presenting Pope Benedict XVI with a bottle of his community’s newly brewed beer. Since the community’s home is at the birthplace of St. Benedict of Nursia, it is appropriately enough called Birra Nursia (Nursia Beer).

Which is a reminder. Whenever possible, I buy gifts or order cards from our monastic communities, supporting them in the work that helps them to keep their lights on. Try some of these favorites from a few of our IRL communities:

Brigittine fudge: The only community of Brigittine men in the US. Originally founded by St. Bridget of Sweden. Fudge is tops with my mother.

Seignadou Soaps from the Summnit, NJ, Dominican Nuns. Seignadou means “sign from God” and commemorates the sign received by St. Dominic confirming his work. Caribbean Coconut, Citrus Basil, and Cedarwood Sage are some of the scented varieties.

Hand drawn cards – the word “card” does not do justice to these hand-drawn and colored calligraphy cards. I simply tell the Passionist Nuns in Ellisville, MO, what I want (birthday greetings, condolence card, ordination, etc ) and they do a customized card for the recipient. For $25.00 I got a beautiful 8 1/2 x 11 folded, hand-drawn card, sent out immediately.  Smaller sizes available. Must call or write to them: 15700 Clayton Road, Ellisville, MO, 63011 or 636-527-6867. I should add that the receiver is remembered in the nuns’ prayers and masses for all time. What a gift!

The Holy Transfiguration Skete in Eagle Harbor, MI, offers homemade jams in not your usual run-of-the-mill varieties – bilberry, chokeberry, wild crabapple, red currant. They are a Catholic Monastery of the Byzantine rite.

Bon appetit!

Crossing the Tiber

On the PBS website, there is an article and video about Episcopalians who are converting to the Catholic Church. The PBS correspondent went to Bladensburg, MD, where the first Episcopal Church in the country was received into the Church, able to retain their ancient traditions and the Book of Common Prayer.

Fr. Mark Lewis says: “We came to the point where we realized the theology of the Episcopal Church is what was lacking. The theology of Rome, the authority of Rome, the unity in the Holy See and in the bishops: that was appealing to  us.” One of the members of the congregations said, “It is going home. It really is, and it feels good. Everyone’s been so very helpful, and I’m at peace. I’m at peace.”

The 2009 Nov/Dec issue of Religious Life magazine highlighted ten sisters from the Society of All Saints’ Sisters of the Poor in Catonsville, MD, who after 7 years of prayer and discernment were received into the Church, attracted by the orthodoxy and unity found in the Catholic Church. Their chaplain was also received into full communion. “Time and again, apostles and saints have been led by God into unexpected paths; so too with us—the All Saints’ Sisters of the Poor,” Reverend Mother Christina, Mother Superior, said. “As they responded with faith and trust, we also are responding to God’s call, and are looking forward to seeing His will for us unfold as we enter the Roman Catholic Church.”

The New Evangelization and the Olympics

Fr. Robert Barron, the new rector of the Mundelein Seminary located next door to our offices, has a great article on the New Evangelization and Seminaries. As the founder of Word on Fire and the creator of the popular Catholicism series seen on PBS, Fr. Barron has a good perspective on what is needed to be an evangelizer of the culture. Here are his thoughts for seminarians:

1) You must have fervor. Something like the “palpable excitement” one finds on the pages of the Gospels, Epistles and Book of Revelation

2) You must be rooted in the Bible and the theological tradition of the Catholic Church: history, art, spiritual masters, Councils, etc.

3) You must know the culture. Aristotle said, “Whatever is received is received according to the mode of the recipient.” A Protestant theologian once said that evangelists should carry a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other.

4) You must be conversant with the New Media: Facebook, YouTube, podcasting, etc.

What does this have to do with the Olympics? Vatican Radio reports that daily mass attendance at the Olympic Village is high. Three masses are offered every day. At the same time, young Catholics from around the world are attending Joshua Camp, held in the shadow of the Olympic Stadium. There the young men and women attended daily catechesis, prayer vigils, Eucharistic Adoration and Mass. Today, they pack up their tents and mingle with the crowds, both the athletes and the poor who live in the area.

Says James Parker, Catholic Executive Coordinator for the 2012 London Games, “The Joshua Camp is about going to the poor and needy on the periphery of the Games and saying ‘come and see what its all about’ and not only but also ‘come and take part of this great banquet that God’s got prepared for us’”.

This strikes me as the New Evangelization truly in action. God bless all the Catholics who are making the Olympics an opportunity to draw close to the Lord.

East Meets West

On July 29, 2012, two 105 tear-old monks died on the same day, separated by an ocean, together part of the “two lungs” that are the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches.  As Pope John Paul II said: “… the Church must learn anew to breathe with her two lungs, East and West.”

For Fr. Daniel Lenihan, his death came one one day after his 105th birthday and in his 66th year as a Trappist at New Melleray Abbey in Iowa. When another monk turned 80, he said, “He thinks HE’S old!” His duties over the years included construction work, laying concrete block, purchaser, guest master, spiritual director and Mass Secretary. A priest in Egypt wrote, “I have been receiving Mass intentions from Fr. Daniel for over 18 years, since the first month of my ordination. No month has ever been skipped. He always adds a note of greeting and encouragement in my missionary service.” Father’s advice to all who knew him was “Stay in love.”

I went on retreat once to New Melleray and it was a wonderful experience, especially joining in the community prayers.

On the other side of the ocean, Fr. John Hilandari, an Mount Athos monk in Greece, died the same day at age 105. If I am reading the obituary correctly, it says he became a monk after his wife died when he was over 70 years old! (A priest I know who was ordained in his 70’s said – It’s never too late to live.) Father was a Serbian native who was a gardener for the monastery. During a terrible fire in 2004, Father saved many precious icons and in 2009, he gave up his typewriter for a laptop. (It’s never too late to learn!) He went to sleep one day and went quietly to his eternal reward.

May God bless them both for their faithfulness and may they rest in His peace.


Pray for Priests Today

Today is the feast day of St. John Vianney, Patron Saint of Parish Priests. I always try to pray today for all the priests who have helped me along the way: the priest that baptized me, the priests who have heard my confessions, priests I have known who have died, etc.

St. John told the young boy who showed him the way to Ars, France, where he would remain his whole priestly life: “You have shown me the way to Ars, I will show you the way to Heaven.” He also said that a priest who is obedient to the demands and wishes of the Lord is the greatest blessing that God can bestow on a parish.

As Fr. John Hardon, SJ, once said, and I paraphrase, do not be afraid to ask a priest to perform his priestly duties for that is his road to holiness.

Prayer for Priests

(St Therese of Lisieux)

O Jesus, I pray for Your faithful and fervent priests;
for Your unfaithful and tepid priests;
for Your priests laboring at home or abroad in distant mission fields;
for Your tempted priests;
for Your lonely and desolate priests;
for Your young priests;
for Your dying priests;
for the souls of Your priests in purgatory.
But above all I recommend to You the priests dearest to me:
the priest who baptized me;
the priest who absolved me from my sins;
the priests at whose Masses I assisted and who gave me Your Body and Blood in Holy Communion;
the priests who taught and instructed me;
all the priests to whom I am indebted in any other way.
O Jesus, keep them all close to Your heart, and bless them abundantly in time and in eternity. Amen.


New Carmel Foundation

A new Carmelite Community has been established in the Diocese of Oakland, CA, with the arrival of 5 nuns from the Carmel in Valparaiso, NE. It is fortunate timing because another Carmelite Monastery recently closed after more than 60 years of prayer in the diocese.

Generous benefactors donated the land for the new convent. Temporary lodging will house the nuns and the additional ones who will join them later. A building able to house 21 nuns, the maximum stipulated for a Carmel by St. Teresa of Avila, is planned.

The Valparaiso Carmel also founded a Carmel in Elysburg, PA in 2009. They are obviously bursting with vocations. According to one site on the internet, they actually had 38 nuns in residence in Valparaiso in July! They are a traditional order of Carmelite Nuns with Mass offered in the Tridentine Rite.

For a list of societies and religious orders for men and women using the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, click here.

Carrying a Flag for Christ

The Catholic Community of London is prepared for the influx of visitors and is offering athletes and visitors alike a place of repose and renewal during the Olympic Games. St. Francis of Assisi Parish in East London has adoration from 9:00am to 6:00 pm while 2 other parishes pick up the remaining hours. The parish will also offer evening prayer and healing services. Says Franciscan Father Francis Conway, “We’re flying the flag for Christ if you like.” One of their early visitors was an Archbishop from  Puerto Rico who celebrated mass for the Puerto Rican Olympic team.

Some of the star athletes are not keeping their faith under a bushel basket, according to  Zenit. Missy Franklin, a swimmer who won an unexpected gold medal in the 100m backstroke, attends Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora, Colorado. “Every day over the last three years, my faith has grown. One of my favorite times is going to our beautiful school chapel and spending time with God. This year, I attended Kairos with my Regis Jesuit sisters and it changed my life forever. I now really work on keeping my faith strong,” she said.

Jordyn Wieber, who kept me up late last night watching the US gymnastics team win a team gold medal, says her “parents have always made going to church as a family important. Sometimes we have to split up due to our schedules, but most of the time we are able to get to Mass together. It’s a very special family time and it means a lot to me.”

Finally, Lopez Lomong, a member of the US track team, was abducted at age 6 while attending a Mass in the Sudan and sent to  a rebel camp. He escaped and ten years after his abduction, Catholic Charities arranged for him to begin a new life in America. He says,  “God blessed me and gave me a lot of strength to be faithful and more determined with my life to overcome obstacles.” He was the flag bearer for the US during the 2008 Olympiad. He will be running in the 5000m men’s race.

May all the athletes perform at their best and may their love for God shine for all to see.

More Signs of Life for Women Religious

I read with interest an article in the Rochester, MN, Post Bulletin (my old hometown), that a young nurse from Saint Mary’s Hospital has joined the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma, Michigan. Christina Kluczny was 9 years old when she promised God that someday she would be a sister. After graduating from college with a degree in biology, Christina went back to Creighton University to earn her nursing degree. For 4 1/2 years, she worked as a nurse in Rochester.

But she never forgot her promise to God. After spending 5 days with the sisters in Jackson, Minnesota, where the RSM sisters run a medical facility, Christina “knew that a religious vocation was my future. I felt so peaceful.”

There will be ten (10!) women entering the novitiate this summer. Christian says, “Answering the call to be a religious sister is not a life that these women settle for. A religious vocation is a gift, and they feel happy and fortunate to be living their lives as Religious Sisters.”

The RSM Sisters, an IRL Affiliate Community, were founded in 1973. A unique characteristic of the Institute of Mercy (which is their heritage) as founded by Venerable Catherine McAuley is the fourth vow of service to the poor, sick, and ignorant.

“God has not stopped calling men and woman to be priests or sisters,” says Christina. “We just need to encourage these vocations so that those who are called feel free to answer ‘Yes.'”