Category Archives: News

The Holy Father’s January 2018 Intentions

That Christians in Asian countries may be able to practice their faith in full freedom.

Please read the inspiring homily by Pope Francis at the 2015 Mass of Canonization of Saint Joseph Vaz († 1771).  He was an Oratorian missionary priest who was born in India and ministered in Sri Lanka, a country that, despite the best efforts of this holy man, was and remains today to be predominantly Buddhist.   His feast day is January 16.

https://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/homilies/2015/documents/papa-francesco_20150114_srilanka-filippine-omelia-canonizzazione.html

Tuesday, November 21, 2017 – World Day of Cloistered Life

On November 21 (the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple), the Church will celebrate World Day of Cloistered Life, also known as “Pro Orantibus” Day, which is a Latin phrase meaning “for those who pray.” This is an important ecclesial event for all Catholics worldwide to commemorate the hidden lives of consecrated religious in cloisters and monasteries.

We celebrate this day because the contemplative life is a gift from Almighty God to us all — all the world benefits spiritually from the prayer and sacrifice of these dedicated and faithful souls, even when we may not know it. On this day, the faithful are encouraged to reach out to the cloistered and contemplative communities in their diocese, through prayer, encouragement, and material support.

Please click at the link for more info and for resources: http://www.cloisteredlife.com/news/pro-orantibus-day/

“The one who has Hope lives differently” says Pope Benedict XVI

Saint Paul in his epistle to the Hebrews writes that the Christian virtue of “Hope” is set before us as “an anchor of the soul, sure and firm.” (cf. Heb 6:19) The anchor of a ship is that substantial piece of equipment that when thrown down, grabs hold of the solid sea bed below.  The winds may blow and the waves crash about, but the anchor provides security and stability until the skies clear and the waves calm.

The community of religious brothers called the Brotherhood of Hope was founded in 1980 by Father Philip Merdinger.  With their motto as “Primum Deus, Deus Solum”, Latin for “God First, God alone”, this community  based in Boston, MA wears on their habit the Anchor.

With 18 young men in Brotherhood formation as of this writing, these serious, yet joyful men prepare to labor in the harvest of the Lord with a zeal for the “lost sheep”, particularly college students and young adults who are especially vulnerable to being lost in the storms of the increasingly secularized and hostile culture with its many allurements and distractions.

From the earliest days of the Church, the Anchor has served as a powerful symbol of Hope in Christ our Resurrected Savior and His promise of eternal salvation, with countless examples found on the epitaphs of the faithful departed within the catacombs in Rome.

The important work of the Brothers is that in their apostolate, in their fidelity to Christ and to the Church and their works of mercy, they inspire Hope and demonstrate the “freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Rom 8:21)

http://brotherhoodofhope.org/

Consecration to Our Lady of Czestochowa

This weekend the Church celebrated the Feast of Our Lady of Czestochowa. This feast commemorates the famous icon of Our Lady that, according to legend, was painted by St. Luke at the house of the Holy Family. The icon ended up in Constantinople due to the efforts of St. Helena, and then was brought to Poland before the fall of Constantinople in the 15th century. The icon became the spiritual heart of the Poles, reminding them of Mary’s maternal care through the hardships of their history. In 1979, shortly after becoming Pope, Saint John Paul II traveled to Poland in what has been remembered as the “Nine Days That Changed the World.” On that trip, he went to Jasna Gora, the home of Our Lady of Czestochowa, and reminded the Poles to consecrate “everything through Mary.” He urged them to give over to Mary’s maternal heart all their sufferings, sacrifices, and hopes. Only in Her, who is rooted in the Son, will they find the liberation they were seeking, the freedom grounded in authentic self-gift that only Christ can give.

Poland is a country that not only sees its history through the lens of Providence but a land where it is very common to find people who see their own particular histories through the dynamics of the Faith. Dedication to Mary is part of that. It begins in the home, especially through daily recitation of the Rosary and simple acts of consecration to Mary at a young age. Religious vocations flourish in such a culture because life is interpreted as bring from and for God, encouraging the youth to make Mary’s “fiat” an integral part of their lives. The vow of consecration and the vow of marriage are seen as participations in Mary’s way of life who is both Virgin and Spouse. The Institute on Religious Life has a special devotion to Mary since she is the Mother of Vocations. Each day we should pray through Mary for vocations, and we should look to Our Lady of Czestochowa for help and guidance.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux – Promoter of the Religious Life Par Excellence

St. Bernard of Clairvaux inspired many vocations to the newly founded Cistercian Order. Famously, he managed to bring his uncle, his brothers, and a group of young nobleman to the same vocation. He even convinced his sister to leave her husband and become a nun. His charisma transformed Europe in the 12th Century. Benedictine Jean Leclercq, O.S.B. (1911-1993), known for his magisterial The Love of Learning and the Desire for God, wrote this informative paragraph as part of an introduction to Bernard of Clairvaux: Selected Works (this paragraph shows you how much a contemplative can do):

“In 1115, just three years following his arrival at Citeaux, Bernard was sent to found a monastery at Clairvaux in Champagne, to which he led his brothers and companions, and attracted many other young men as well. Soon he was in a position to make other foundations, in 1118, 1119, 1121, and almost every year after that. He made 68 foundations in thirty-five years and was the principal promoter of his Order, which, at the time of his death, comprised some 350 houses, of which 164 were answerable more or less directly to his authority. They extended across the whole of Europe, from Scandinavia to southern Portugal, from northern England to central Europe. A spiritual motivation had to be ensured in each monastery, beginning with the motherhouse. It has been estimated that between 800 and 900 monks had been part of the community of Clairvaux before Bernard’s death. Some of them were sent to daughterhouses that, in turn, made other foundations. Thus, there were thousands of men, generally young, who left society and often a military career to take up cloistered life. If to this number one adds the members of some 290 other Cistercian monasteries founded during Bernard’s lifetime, one has some idea of the tremendous peace corps, with tens of thousands of members, that Bernard helped to establish. What architect of peace has played such a role in his century or in any other?”

A Moment of Catechesis

Many people have a vocation to the religious life but simply do not know that the religious life exists or what it is. I find that many of my students never heard of the religious life. They think that everyone gets married with the exception of the parish priest, and once they learn that it is not that narrow they are confused why anyone would live that way. This is why now is moment to catechize the young on the nature of the religious life and give them resources to help them discover an order suited to their vocation.

Many youth sense that they are not called to marriage and family. Most girls sense that that is their only option, other than single life. Boys know about the diocesan priesthood but do not know where to look if they feel called to something more. I try to present the religious orders to my students to make sure that they know all the charisms to which they may be called. Soren Kierkegaard grew up in a Protestant country that did not have active religious orders. Famously, Kierkegaard called off his marriage. He sensed that he was not called to the married state. Most likely, if he lived in a Catholic culture he would have become a religious. However, that was not available to him. While America has religious orders, the Catholicism most American teenagers grow up in is without religious. In order to serve them and them find their place in the Church, we must introduce them to the religious life. That is partially why the Institute on Religious Life exists. Consider becoming a member of the Institute to help us foster a growing awareness of religious life, especially amongst the young.