Category Archives: Resources

The Vanishing American Adult and the Religious Life

Senator Ben Sasse has written a new book called The Vanishing American Adult. I highly recommend it, especially for those of us concerned about the future of religious life in America. The book is a diagnosis and prognosis of the current situation of the youth in America. He doesn’t lay blame on American kids but mainly their parents for protecting them from challenges that will help them become adults.  Adulthood is not just a biological stage but something to be earned. In the past, it  was what we all needed to learn, whether or not we liked it. This is not the case anymore. Our culture endorses prolonged adolescence, upholding baby 40-year-olds.

Adults are responsible and virtuous as good citizens and members of the Church.  They make tough decisions and take responsibility for their decisions. They are not passive but active. Senator Sasse’s book is important for those of us concerned with Religious Life because becoming a religious takes the virtues of an adult, putting away childish things. With the vanishing of the American adult, the Republic will not only suffer but also the Church, especially religious life.

Pray for parents. It is difficult to raise children in today’s culture of the vanishing adult. Unlike any time in history, the culture is raising kids more than the parents, undermining parental authority. Parents should be supported and encouraged to actively raise their children into the virtues. Senator Sasse gives some helpful advice on what he and his wife are doing for their children. Read his book and take his advice.

Buy the book here. 

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/

Parents of Vocations Forum

The Kissel family with Sr. M. Gemma, FSGM

One of the little talked about issues surrounding religious vocations is the impact it can have on the parents of a young man or women entering religious life. The process of discernment can be challenging enough but  it is often complicated by the reaction of the parents.

Even in the most supportive of families, the thought of your child entering religious life can bring heartache, questions, sorrow, puzzlement and even anger—the whole gauntlet of emotions. Since religious communities are quite invisible in our culture, parents today typically do not have an aunt or uncle who is in religious life and thus a level of comfort and familiarity with the vocation. They have many questions, and understandably, want the best for their children.

The Blessed Mother & St Joseph present Mary to the Temple

That is why Tom Kissel developed this new website—to have a forum where parents can ask questions, share experiences and network. Tom’s only daughter is in an active Franciscan community (The Sisters of St Francis of the Martyr St. George) so he is familiar first-hand with the path that parents walk along with their son or daughter and the stages of grief and joy.

The website has just been launched but do not hesitate to jump on and participate in this much-needed initiative in the Church.

Please visit parentsofvocations.com to join the conversation!

 

5 Common Fears As You Discern Your Vocation

This post, helpful for everyone in the process of discernment, comes from Conception Abbey, a Benedictine Monastery  in Conception, MO . For the complete blog post, visit:  https://www.conceptionabbey.org/discernment-fears/

5 Common Fears with Discerning your Vocation

Many men and women who are discerning a religious vocation hesitate in taking the next step because they are restrained by any number of fears. Listed below are five fears common to men and women discerning religious life and some helpful advice to banish the fear and draw near to the Risen Christ who offers you peace.

  1. What if I am making the wrong (or a bad) decision?

If you are praying daily, striving to live a virtuous life, and remaining close to the Sacraments, you will know if you are making the wrong decision. Religious formation is a process where you continue to discover and realize God’s call in your life. When you enter a religious community, there is a period of one to two years (or longer) that you experience before you profess vows or make any further commitment. Additionally, religious communities are wise in the discernment process and only want candidates who have an authentic call to commit themselves to the way of life, and this call is most fully realized when it is tested over a period of time.

  1. The fear of what others will think, especially parents or friends

Sometimes friends and family members may not understand or completely accept your decision to enter religious life. It is important for friends or family to visit the religious community to meet and interact with its members. If you decide to enter a community and find peace and fulfillment, it often alleviates the pressure that comes from friends or family members, because their opposition diminishes when they see your joy.

  1. Focusing too much on the sacrifices

Jesus assured St. Peter, “Everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life” (Mt 19:29). Do not be afraid to live no longer for yourselves, but for Christ. There are many joys and blessings in following Christ in religious life, and many times you find yourself surprised by how good and generous God truly is!

  1. I’m afraid that I’m following my own voice and not Jesus’ voice

If you truly desire to hear God, the call will not remain hidden, nor will it be presented as a puzzle that you have to ‘figure out.’ Gather all the information necessary to make a well-informed and prudent decision, pray as if it all depends on God, but when it is time to act, place your trust entirely in God. If your decision was made peacefully and with a desire to please God, then you can move forward with confidence. Since it is a real challenge not to be guided by self-will, it is most important to find a priest or spiritual director to listen and guide you throughout the process.

  1. I’m not worthy or holy enough

Religious life is not for the perfect, but for those who desire holiness and strive to call themselves to conversion each and every day. Jesus said, “I did not come to call the righteous but sinners“ (Mark 2:17). Most religious men and women seek community life because they are aware of and readily admit their need for the support and encouragement of others to persevere on the path that leads to God. The call to holiness requires that you embrace your humanity, with both your strengths and weaknesses, to become the man or the woman that God desires you to be.

I encourage you to visit the Conception Abbey website/blog posts for more information on discernment.

Getting Started With Discernment

 

 

Institute of Catholic Culture Welcomed as New IRL Affiliate!

icc

The institute of Catholic Culture, through its’ apostolate the Magdala Institute, has for several years now been providing top-quality, free formation classes for sisters and nuns. We were pleased at the IRL’s September Board Meeting to approve them as a new IRL Affiliate.

The ICC was founded in 2006 by Rev. Franklyn McAfee, S.T.D., and Rev. Hezekias Carnazzo, M.A., as an educational outreach project within the Office of Evangelization at St. John the Beloved Catholic Church in McLean, Virginia, in response to the Church’s call for a new evangelization.

From the beginning, the ICC has offered weekly seminars in Catholic history, philosophy and theology, with a strong emphasis on the study of Sacred Scripture. Soon, it was bursting at the seams, as attendees from all over the Northern Virginia / Washington D.C. metropolitan area began to visit, knowing they could receive quality, orthodox education with the Institute’s programs.

Today, the ICC averages over 200 eager participants at its regular education programs and offers Catholic adult faith formation opportunities in local parishes. In addition, it has expanded beyond its initial geographical region by offering live and on-demand video streaming of its programs, CD production of past seminars, and over 600 hours of catechetical programs in its free, on-line media library.

magdalaOf interest to IRL communities is their Magdala Apostolate, dedicated to providing sound doctrinal formation—both initial and ongoing—for women religious and novices, in accord with the Church’s call for a new evangelization. Each term, they offer semester-long courses in the faith to any religious sister or community who applies. All that is needed to participate is a:

  1. A computer
  2. An internet connection with a download speed of about 4.00 Mbps and an upload speed of about 1.0 Mbps.
  3. A webcam

They have also begun building an online resources library, so that those who visit their web site can access not only the archived and live programs, but also the written resources discussed and referenced.

Topics covered include:

  • Scripture
  • Theology
  • Church History
  • Philosophy
  • Catechetics
  • Spirituality
  • Continuing formation classes like Greek, Biblical Apologetics, Ante-Nicaean Fathers

fr-hezFather Carnazzo has been to many IRL National Meetings, both as a speaker and participant. Ordained to the priesthood on May 1, 2016, he also serves as the Director of the Office of Catechesis and Evangelization for the Melkite Greek Catholic Eparchy of Newton. We highly recommend his courses. Feel free to call the ICC for more information at 540-635-7155.

 

Apostleship of Prayer October Prayer Intentions

losser1Journalists

That journalists, in carrying out their work, may always be motivated by respect for truth and a strong sense of ethics.

 

losser2World Mission Day

That World Mission Day may renew within all Christian communities the joy of the Gospel and the responsibility to announce it.

 

For more information and reflections, please visit the Apostleship of Prayer’s Website.

Vocational Discernment at Mater Redemptoris

mater redOne of the biggest obstacles a young woman faces as she discerns a religious vocation is finding wise spiritual guidance along the way. The other  factor preventing a flourishing of vocations is the sad truth that most young girls have never seen much less talked to a sister.

Fortunately, in the IRL’s backyard there is a wonderful apostolate whose mission is to assist young women to discern a call to the religious life. Called Mater Redemptoris, the goal of all of the programs is to promote understanding of religious life in the Church and to assist girls and women to find God’s particular call for their lives. It is a joint project with the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George and the Diocese but it is open to women outside the diocese.

They offer long-term live-in opportunities, spiritual mentoring, retreats, and vocational talks. They just completed a vocational pilgrimage where women and their chaperones visited Catholic shrines and religious communities in the Eastern U.S. (It was so popular there was a waiting list!)

For high school girls, there are summer immersion programs (June 22-28 & July 6-12) where they will get a closer look at religious life.

For girls aged 9 – 13, a retreat (July 1-2) gives them an opportunity to interact with the Sisters and to begin learning about religious life.

Private retreats are available for adult women.

What a fabulous resource for young women! Check out their website and blog!

Transformed to Christ by Love

Sr Mary Paul 2-1In 2010, the Institute of Carmelite Studies (ICS) published a book by Sr. Mary Paul Cutri, OCD, called Sounding Solitude. In this 176-page book, Sister Mary Paul draws on the rich heritage of the great Discalced Carmelite founders, St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross, as well as her own experience in contemplative prayer, to show us how to be transformed to Christ by love.

Sister is a member of the Carmel of the Assumption in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, that was founded in 1961 as a foundation from the Carmel in Loretto, PA. The land for the monastery was purchased because of its proximity to the Benedictine Archabbey of St. Vincent. The monks have served as their chaplains, confessors and spiritual directors from the very beginning.

Sister entered religious life in 1955 as a graduate of Mercyhurst College with a BA degree in Biology and a Medical Technologist’s certificate. She was one of the original sisters who came to Latrobe in 1961. Of her long life as a spouse of Christ, Sister says, “God who called me to Carmel continues to fill my days with love, peace and appreciation for this precious contemplative vocation in the Church.”

p_SSThe twelve chapters of her book describe experiences along the way of solitude’s intimacy, solitude’s savorings, solitude’s sufferings, love as its meaning and the power of transformation that takes place through Christ in us.  She says, “To spend time with the Lord in long periods of solitude and prayer is to begin to learn the ways of God and how we are to respond in the likeness of Christ to the work God is doing in us. In our desire for union with God, ‘God will capture the hearts of people, leaving them so touched by love that they have no desire other than to belong to God by consent, as they belong to God by creation and grace.  We are destined to be transformed in Christ by love.’”

To order the book, click here to reach the ICS website..

“I have received comments, especially from our Secular Carmelites who have read the book, saying that it has helped them in their life of prayer,” said Sister Mary Paul. “All praise to God who both inspires and motivates us in sharing the gifts of grace God gives us.  It is all God’s work of love.”

 

 

Institute on Religious Life Launches New Website

Revised screenThe Institute on Religious Life today launched a completely redesigned www.ReligiousLife.com. The new site is more dynamic and user friendly, houses a great resource of information, and provides expanded audio and video features.

“All of the changes are intended to convey a better sense of our mission and who we are as an organization,” said Michael D. Wick, executive director of the IRL. “We are so happy to launch our new website during the IRL’s 40th anniversary and as the Church prepares to celebrate the Year of Consecrated Life which Pope Francis declared to begin this October.”

The new site was made possible by a grant from Our Sunday Visitor Institute. It was designed by Solutio Software of Cheney, Kansas.

“The site will be a great help to young Catholics who wish to know more or are considering the priestly or religious life, something very much needed in our times. And it will connect them to faithful institutes of consecrated life. The VocationSearch database is terrific for learning about the IRL’s 160-plus affiliate communities,” said M. Kathleen O’Brien, IRL director of operations. “We believe it is the premier Catholic vocations information portal—a ‘one-stop shopping’ experience for those who are sincerely discerning their vocation or seeking resources to promote and pray for vocations. From its 8-day ‘virtual’ discernment retreats, to the new Religious Life e-magazine, to vocation prayer leaflets for distribution among family, friends or parishioners, the new site offers all kinds of resources for building up the consecrated life.”

The site has in-depth reflections on the consecrated life, print and audio, including meditations by the IRL’s founder, Servant of God Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J., and talks given by IRL national director Fr. Thomas Nelson, O.Praem. The home page photo rotation features IRL affiliates, as well as real-time entries from the IRL’s “Vocation Blog” and a listing of scheduled events.

Young people who are serious about discernment can sign up for the free “Speak Lord” audio download of the month club or find out about upcoming “Come & See” vocation retreats. “Young people need catechesis and direction to be able to discern the Lord’s calling for their lives and the IRL wishes to provide helpful resources that will allow them to discern God’s will,” notes Father Nelson.

The Institute on Religious Life was founded in 1974 by Servant of God Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J. Early supporters included Bl. Mother of Calcutta and Ven. Fulton J. Sheen. Its mission is to promote and support the consecrated life as a gift to the Church and an evangelical witness to the world.

 

The Secret Behind the Renewal of Vocations

renewal2A new book was issued in December which sheds light on the priestly vocation crisis and what is drawing young men to the priesthood today. Entitled: Renewal: How a New Generation of Faithful Priests and Bishops Is Revitalizing the Catholic Church (Encounter Books, 2013) it studies the reasons behind the past decline and the current rise in vocations.

The authors Anne Hendershott and Christopher White say that the more parishes and dioceses and religious organizations compromise “with society and the world, blurring its identity and modifying its teachings and ethics, the more it will decline.”

Ms. Hendershott said that “good and holy priests provide wonderful role models for young men who might someday consider joining the priesthood. Conversely, in some parishes—run by progressive pastoral administrators—young men are less likely to answer the call to a priesthood that has been so diminished that the priest is a visiting ‘sacramental minister’ who arrives in time to consecrate the Eucharist and play a subservient role to the female ‘pastoral administrator.’”

Equally disturbing is the role or lack thereof that Catholic Colleges play in the nurturing of vocations. Says Ms. Hendershott: “There was a time when Catholic higher education saw it as their role to nurture priestly vocations. Now, most Catholic colleges and universities seem to do what they can to inhibit them.” However orthodox schools like Franciscan University, Ave Maria, and Christendom College have bountiful vocations. At Franciscan University, the Blessed Junipero Serra Fund provides spiritual and financial support to the 50 or 60 or so young men who are discerning a vocation to the priesthood.

Mr White says that “successful dioceses are led by bishops who are unafraid to be countercultural through their defense of the dignity of all human life, their support of traditional marriage, their efforts to protect and promote religious liberty, their willingness to live faithful and celibate lives.” Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley of Boston was advised to close the seminary when he arrived 10 years ago. “Now,” says Ms. Hendershott, “there are 70 men in Boston studying to be priests, and the seminary has had to turn away candidates for lack of space.”

Both authors are optimistic about the future. Young men and women are being trained to pass on the Faith in its fullness by orthodox colleges, FOCUS, etc. “A Church that continues down this road,” says Mr. West, “will find both its pews and altars full and will be attractive to the world around it!”

For more information, read the entire article in the Catholic World Report or order the book!