Archive for the 'Men’s communities' Category

Conception Abbey Welcomed!

Friday, October 24th, 2014

osbConception Benedictine Abbey is welcomed as a new IRL Affiliate. They are perhaps one of the best-known abbeys in the US for a variety of reasons. First, they have a printing house that supplies beautiful Christmas cards, icons, note cards and other Christian gifts. Secondly, they have a thriving seminary college, one of the largest of the 40 college seminaries in the US. Thirdly, they have a bustling retreat house. And finally, they are a large community of monks – almost 60 in number!

The abbey was founded in 1873 when Abbot Frowin Conrad and seven novices arrived from Engelberg, Switzerland, to establish a monastic community in Missouri. I like what the abbot wrote in his diary after the founding, in 1883, of a fledgling high school at the monastery: “Omme initium durum,” – All beginnings are hard!! The seminary college was founded in 1887. Currently, 25 dioceses in the U.S. send students to Conception, and student enrollment has increased nearly 75 percent since the mid-’90s to over 100 students.

03_Presentation_of_MaryThe magnificent basilica houses the famous Beuronese murals that were painted by the monks between 1893 and 1897. They depict scenes from the life of Mary, Jesus and Sts. Benedict and Scholastica (See Presentation of Mary at right). Some of the murals are replicas of ones done in Europe that were destroyed during World War II and as such are precious mementos of lost treasures. Many of these images are reproduced on the note cards.

St. Benedict said that “All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ, for He himself will say: I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” The retreat house welcomes guests for private and group retreats. You can also become a Benedictine oblate, that is, a Christian who shapes his or her life in the wisdom of Christ as interpreted by the great St. Benedict.

Young men between the ages of 18-35 who are discerning their vocation may be interested in their Monastic Experience weekend retreat. The next one scheduled is October 31-November 2, 2014.

 

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Benedictine Brother Bede

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014
Abbot Charles

Abbot Charles

Abbot Charles of Oceanside Abbey in California, recently celebrated 50 years of his Profession of Vows. That is, the vows of Stability, Fidelity to the Monastic way of life (Conversatio Morum), and Obedience.

He also gave a beautiful homily on the occasion of the final profession of Br. Bede, who at age 39, begins a new chapter in his Benedictine of life. The homily was a fresh look at the vows, which he described as Stability of Feet, Stability under Obedience, Stability under the Rule and Stability in and to the Community. As the Abbot reminds us, the vow of stability is unique to monastic orders. It can all be summarized as stability of heart in which the monk binds himself to God. “The more one remains rooted in God, the more he progresses in virtue.”

Stability of Feet: “As the tree which is often transplanted brings no fruit, so the monk who wanders can bring no fruit.” This also means perseverance in ones’ obligations, as a contrast to acedia (listlessness, torpor, diversion from the task at hand).

Stability under Obedience: When obedience is seen as a negative, one will always hold something back. When you do someone else’s will (as long as it is not sinful), you are free of your own self-will. “That is following Christ who came to do not His own will but the Will of Him who sent Him.”

br bede

Brother Bede, OSB

Stability under the Rule: “From this day, he is no longer free to leave the monastery, nor shake from his neck the yoke of the Rule” which after a long “period of reflection, he was free to reject or accept.”

Stability in and to the Community: The bond is not so much to a place as to a community. “The one who is to be received comes before the whole community” (RB 58.17). Like the apostles and first disciples, Br. Bede has given up body, soul, will and possessions to follow Jesus.

Said Abbot Charles: Brother Bede, you have given up all and die symbolically today by having the pall placed over you. This powerful and poignant symbol indicates that you are giving up your old life of individuality and are donating the new man, as it were, to the Lord and to the community.

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The Passionists of England

Sunday, October 12th, 2014
Fr. Ignatius

Fr. Ignatius

In the news recently, was an item stating that while Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, was in Malta, he attended his first official Catholic Mass. It was noted that one of his distant forebears, Fr. Ignatius of St. Paul (1799-1864), born Hon. George Spencer, is potentially on the road to canonization.

Fr. Ignatius is the great-great-great-uncle of his mother, Princess Diana (nee Spencer), may she rest in peace. An Anglican vicar before he became a Catholic and a Passionist, he spent his life working for the conversion of England back to the Catholic faith. Because of his tireless efforts for this cause, he is known as the Apostle of Prayer for England.

Instrumental in his life was Bl. Dominic Barberi, CP, the priest who brought the Passionists to England in 1841. Fr. Ignatius first met Bl. Dominic while studying in Rome and received the Passionsist habit from him in 1847. Bl. Dominic was also the one who received Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman into the Catholic Church.

Cardinal Newman had said: “If they (Catholics) want to convert England, let them go barefooted into our manufacturing towns—let them preach to the people like St. Francis Xavier—let them be pelted and trampled on, and I will own they can do what we cannot.”

Bl. Dominic, CP

Bl. Dominic, CP

Well, Father Barberi came barefoot; he was pelted with rocks and showered with obscenities. But he persevered. Cardinal Newman’s conversion in 1845 was a crowning achievement. Bl. Dominic had a heart attack while on a train in 1845 and the passengers, fearing he had cholera, had him removed and he died later that day. Strangely enough, Fr. Ignatius also died after leaving a train. He had a heart attack and collapsed into a roadside ditch in 1864. The two bodies now reside in a new shrine in Lancashire which also includes the remains of Elizabeth Prout, Mother Mary Joseph of Jesus, the Foundress of the Sisters of the Cross and Passion.

Cardinal Newman called Fr. Barberi a zealous missioner and preacher. “When his form came within sight, I was moved to the depths in the strangest way. The gaiety and affability of his manner in the midst of all his sanctity was in itself a sermon. No wonder then that I became his convert and his penitent. He was Bl. Dominic of the Mother of God, C.P., great lover of England.”

 

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It’s Never Too Late to Live!

Monday, September 29th, 2014

msToday, on the great celebration of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, I would like to thank a special priest with a great devotion to the Archangel Raphael—Fr. Joe Whalen, MS. Father is a LaSalette Missionary who was ordained to the priesthood in 1989 at the age of 66. Father’s favorite motto is: It’s never too late to live! If you can imagine the odds he overcame to be ordained at that venerable age, you can believe he truly lives by that motto!

Father’s other favorite saying is: “God writes straight with crooked lines.” Father should know. He was once married and an alcoholic but managed through the grace of God to turn his entire life around. It is an amazing story. All glory goes to God, he believes, for the mercy shown to him by our loving Father.

I was fortunate to meet Father on a pilgrimage, and then accompanied him on a trip to LaSalette, Lourdes and Knock. He reminded me and my friend every day and in all circumstances to call on our Guardian angels for help. He has a deep devotion to St. Raphael, the Archangel whose name means “Medicine of God.”

St. Raphael and Tobias

St. Raphael and Tobias

Father had a St. Raphael healing ministry that continues on, even though he has retired. If you go to their website you can ask for St. Raphael oil and a prayer card and testimonials testifying to the wonder of St. Rapahel’s intercession. I can personally attest to the miracles that this Archangel still works in the world today. (Staph infection, out of control).

The main ministry of the LaSalette missionaries, of which Father is one, is to reconcile people to God. God bless Father for pouring out his life and strength for over 25 years to bring people to knowing the loving Savior. May God bless him all the remaining days of his long life. Help us to remember too that “It is never too late to live!”

 

PRAYER TO ST. RAPHAEL THE ARCHANGEL

Glorious Archangel St. Raphael, great prince of the heavenly court, you are illustrious for your gifts of wisdom and grace. You are a guide of those who journey by land or sea or air, consoler of the afflicted, and refuge of sinners.I beg you, assist me in all my needs and in all the sufferings of this life, as once you helped the young Tobias on his travels. Because you are the “medicine of God” I humbly pray you to heal the many infirmities of my soul and the ills that afflict my body. I especially ask of you the favor (here mention your special intention), and the great grace of purity to prepare me to be the temple of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

 

 

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“The Best Evangelizers are the Poor!”

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

friar mariusFriar Marius-Petru Bîlha, OFM Conv., recently recounted his experience of visiting the parish of St. Maximilian Kolbe in Tegucigalpa, Nicaragua. It is on the outskirts of the capital in a poor and highly dangerous area. The Conventual friars there also serve another 16 chapels which they reach weekly or monthly to administer the sacraments and minister to the people. Or, in this case, have the people minister to them!

Friar Marius-Petru says, “One can’t help noticing the contrast between the joy and happiness of the people and the outward ugliness of a society where violence, corruption and poverty are everyday news. I have often wondered; where does it all come from, this joy, the desire for goodness and the outlook for a hopeful future? It can only come from hearts filled with love of God, hearts which put all hope and trust in Him.”

The friars in the US have a close relationship with their brothers from Honduras. Since 1997, their St. Joseph University Parish in Terre Haute, Indiana, has been sending friars and parishioners to assist in various ways at St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish. Many of the missions have offered much needed medical aid to the local community in Tegucigalpa.

The best evangelizers are the poor! “I return from Honduras evangelized by the poor, strengthened to live out my own gift of self with love, joy, simplicity, humility and generosity.”

If you think you might have a vocation to serve Christ in the missions and in the poor, visit the Conventual Franciscans’ website.

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Joy is the Fruit of Not Having

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

osb norcia

“A life spent seeking God is to many the most useless of occupations. But that, of course, is the great reason for the monk’s joy. The more he seeks God, the less he needs to know why he does so. The answer takes away the question. Joy is the fruit not of having, but of no longer needing to have.

 —Fr. Benedict, O.S.B., Monastero di San Benedetto, Norcia, Italy

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I Want to Become a Saint

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; or whether we die, we die unto the Lord. Therefore, whether we live, or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. (Rom 14:18)

brstephen_fiIn Memoriam: Br. Stephen Cox (1992 – 2014)

September 4, 2014

Stephen Timothy Cox was born in Walnut Creek, California on March 22nd, 1992 to Edwin and Nelda Cox. He is the second of two children. His sister, Sarah, is eight years his senior. The family home is in Concord, California, a community on the east side of San Francisco Bay.

Stephen grew up in a traditional Catholic Family. His school years were spent in public schools, homeschooling, a small Catholic Academy and Prep School and finally graduating from Concord Public High School in 2010. After high school Br. Stephen enrolled in Diablo Valley Community College where he graduated with an Associate of Arts Degree in 2013. During his time in College he spent a semester abroad in Italy.

His interests and activities clustered around music and church. Br. Stephen played the trumpet and French horn and was a good vocalist. He sang in choirs at school and church and was looking forward to participating in the Renaissance choir here at the Abbey.

Br. Stephen awakened to a religious vocation at age 14 after viewing the Movie Therese by Leonardo de Filippis. He was profoundly moved by the film and immediately began to investigate religious orders to apply to.

First, Br. Stephen investigated religious orders which were in some way connected with St. Therese and the movie that was so instrumental in his vocational awakening. He was turned away in several instances because of his youth and the fact that he had epilepsy. Finally, he was permitted to apply and was accepted at Mount Angel Abbey. He began the postulancy on March 20th, 2014. He was ecstatic when he found out that part of the movie Therese was filmed at the abbey.

Br. Stephen was a very pious young man. He arrived at the abbey with all the zeal and romantic idealism that are typical of the young. He saw himself very much in the model of St. Therese of Lisieux. His aspirations were simple. As he put it in his application in response to the question “Why do you want to be a monk of Mount Angel Abbey?” He wrote, “Because I want to be a saint and I think that this is the best place for me to do that.”

Br. Stephen was loved by his classmates and the monks of the Abbey. He was very diligent in extending hospitality to the visitors coming to the monastery to consider a call to the monastic life.

He had a refreshing simplicity about him, a sense of humor and smiled a lot. He was humble and zealous; a good monk. Br. Stephen died suddenly in an epileptic seizure the morning of September 4th, 2014.

~Abbot Gregory Duerr & Community, Mount Angel Abbey

 

Memorial services in the Abbey Church:

September 9, Tuesday, 12:00 – Reception of Body

September 9, Tuesday, 7:25pm – Vigils for the Dead

September 10, Wednesday, 10am – Mass of Christian Burial (followed by procession to the Abbey Cemetery)

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Perpetual Adoration and Vocations

Friday, September 5th, 2014
Students from Paris pray at the shrine

Students from Paris pray at the shrine

Fr. Basil Moreau, the Founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross, decreed in 1849 that all of the Holy Cross houses should institute perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament “to obtain necessary vocations and to draw down more abundant blessings from heaven on the work of Holy Cross.”

This is a model for all people—religious, consecrated and lay. If we want vocations, Adoration, especially Perpetual Adoration, is always a means to draw forth blessings from Heaven, whether it be for vocations in the family, in the parish, or in religious communities. All can participate in fostering vocations.

In December of 2013, the Congregation of Holy Cross announced that they are establishing an international shrine in honor of Blessed Basil Moreau at the Church of Notre-Dame de Sainte-Croix in Le Mans, France. The church, consecrated in 1857, is the Congregation’s spiritual home, and the church’s crypt is where Father Moreau is buried today.

It’s new rector, Fr. John DeRiso, C.S.C., said, “I believe the first step in the establishment of the shrine should be that of prayer. We have begun at Notre-Dame de Sainte-Croix a weekly Holy Hour of Eucharistic Adoration for the needs of the parish and the shrine together.” Fr DeRiso previously served in a parish in South Bend, Indiana.

I attended St. Mary’s College in Notre Dame, IN, run by the Holy Cross sisters, where I lived in LeMans Hall. Now I know where and why it got its name!

A Holy Cross brother sent us some quotes from Father Moreau of which I provide these two excerpts:

“Among the practices of piety in use in our congregation, there is one which I cannot recommend strongly enough, my dear sons and daughters in Jesus Christ, because its faithful practice is the richest source of divine blessings for us and for our houses. I refer to the perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.”

“Reverend Fathers and dear Brothers, I feel myself urged to commend earnestly to your attention, fidelity to your Hour of Adoration, so that day and night there may be someone among us before our Lord to adore Him, thank Him, beg for graces, and pardon in the name of the entire family of the Holy Cross.”

 

 

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Meet the Budding Conventual Franciscans

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014
Ted Cramer

Ted Cramer

We always keenly follow the events of the Conventual Franciscans at Marytown since we are located in the shadow of their monastery in Libertyville, Illinois. We are especially happy when we see young faces at the monastery, a sign of growth, vitality and the workings of the Holy Spirit. The following are pictures of six of the new postulants who are beginning their journey as Franciscans for the North American provinces.

Aaron Clark

Aaron Clark

As I read the brief write-ups of each young man, I was struck by some similarities in their vocation stories. One, they served the poor in some way. Two, their contact with a local Conventual Franciscan parish was a great influence, and three, God calls, no matter what the age – high school graduate to experienced businessman.

Aaron Clark (age 41, California), businessman, most recently worked on a spiritual care team at a hospital and tutoring immigrants.

Roberson Lubin

Roberson Lubin

Ted Cramer (age 33, Wyoming), managed construction for Habitat for Humanity and dedicated much time to the local Newman Center

Roberson Lubin (age 28, originally from Haiti), met the friars at a parish in Hermosa Beach in California, enjoyed volunteering at a medical center and parish.

Tim Blanchard

Tim Blanchard

Tim Blanchard (age 19, New York), working in kitchens, he helped provide meals for the poor. Met the Militia Immaculata Youth Group when he was volunteering at the Little Sisters of the Poor.

Franck Lino Sokpolie (age 19, originally from Togo), a freshman in college, after visiting many communities, he felt at home with the Conventuals.

Franck Lino Sokpolie

Franck Lino Sokpolie

Jaime Zaragoza (age 26, Texas), played college football, worked as a volunteer cook for a homeless shelter.

The Conventual Franciscans are one of the three branches of the First Order of St. Francis. The word Conventual is derived from the Latin convenire, “to come together.” Their Order includes about 4500 priests and brothers around the world.

In Assisi, their Friars care for the Basilica of St. Francis, which includes his tomb. In addition, the Conventuals are the Vatican confessors at St. Peter’s Basilica.

In an interesting bit of history, Friar Juan Perez, who pleaded Columbus’ case before King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, is credited with celebrating the first Mass in the New World.

Jaime Zaragoza

Jaime Zaragoza

For a list of some vocation retreats, click here.

Francis said, “And the Lord gave me brothers.” And so we believe we can only experience humility and charity in relationship with one another as brothers. It is within the context of brotherhood that Conventual Franciscans strive to follow the poor and crucified Christ.

 

 

 

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St. Sharbel, Saint for the World

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

sharbelSt. Sharbel (or Charbel) Makhluf was born in 1828 as Youssef Antoun Makhluf. His father died when he was only three, though his mother re-married to a man who later sought Holy Orders. The family’s piety sparked in Youssef a desire to learn about the Saints. He began to spend long hours in daily prayer, and, in 1851, Youssef left home to enter the Lebanese Maronite Order.

The Maronites still use Syriac, a dialect of the Aramaic that Jesus Himself spoke, and take their name from the hermit-priest, Saint Maron, who died in 410 AD.They have never been in schism with Rome.

Youssef’s training began at the Monastery of Our Lady of Mayfouq, though he was later transferred to the Monastery of St. Maron. Here, Youssef received his religious habit and took the name “Sharbel,” which is the name of a second century martyr from Antioch.

 Although he was ordained a priest, he was also called to a hermetic life. Nevertheless, whenever a Superior requested his assistance outside of the hermitage, Sharbel would cheerfully obey. Many sought his counsel and admired his life. Sharbel never raised his eyes except to look up at Heaven in prayer. For this reason, those who saw him never were able to see his face.

 

In December of 1898, at age 70, Sharbel suffered a stroke and was born into eternal life. Even after his death, none beheld his eyes since they were shut. His eyes in death were as they had been in life: hidden.

 

The evening of his death brought severe, snowy weather. Many locals wanted desperately to see Sharbel (many were already calling him “saint”), and to receive one final blessing from him simply by attending his burial journey. The cold and howling wind at his high-elevation hermitage made the villagers understand the suffering Sharbel had endured for Christ. St. Sharbel interceded for his little flock, however, and the weather subsided so that the people were able to make the journey to see their “saint” one last time.

 St. Sharbel is honored as a Saint in the Roman and Eastern Rite Churches. The veneration of St. Sharbel allows the Church to “breathe with both lungs,” as Pope St. John Paul II was known to say. Let us keep all of our monastic communities in our prayers today, and ask St. Sharbel to intercede for us!

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