Holy Father’s January Prayer Intention – Christian Unity

Christian Unity

That all Christians may be faithful to the Lord’s teaching by striving with prayer and fraternal charity to restore ecclesial communion and by collaborating to meet the challenges facing humanity.

For more information, please visit the Apostleship of Prayer’s website.

School Sisters of Christ the King to Be Elevated to an Institute of Diocesan Right

On the closing day of the Year of Mercy, November 20, 2016, Bishop James Conley announced during Mass at the Villa Regina Motherhouse of the School Sisters of Christ the King that the congregation will be raised to an Institute of Diocesan Right.  The celebration  of this joyous occasion will take place on November 26, 2017, the Solemnity of Christ the King.

What an appropriate day to celebrate this milestone in the life of the Nebraskan community for their mission is to bring about the reign of Christ through the apostolate of Catholic education. “As Brides of Christ, Daughters of the Church and Mothers of Souls, we devote ourselves to reflect His love, teach His truth and form His image in souls in the schools of the Diocese of Lincoln.”

The School Sisters were founded in 1976 by Bishop Glennon Flavin who rather than bemoaning the exodus of sisters from the classroom, founded an order of his own in the Diocese of Lincoln to carry on the teaching of the Faith into the third millennium. Through Catholic education, an apostolic laity is formed — so that Christ may reign!

“…education is based on the knowledge and truth of Jesus Christ. Without Jesus at the heart and center of our school, every educational endeavor that we embark upon will not be as effective as it needs to be. Christ must be the center of all that we do, assisting us in preparing students who will be outstanding leaders during their sojourn on earth and holy, prayerful saints once they reach heaven. -Sr. Mary Cecilia, C.K., Principal of St. Joseph School

The 30 or so sisters currently serve in 6 parish schools and assist in several others. For more information, visit: CKsisters.org.

 

 

Glory to God in Highest

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were afraid. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

 “Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Five Ways to Discern a Religious Vocation

This practical advice was written by Fr. Paul Sheller, OSB, Conception Abbey Vocation Director. To find out more about discerning religious life at Conception Abbey, visit their Monastic Vocations website or contact Fr. Paul, the Vocation Director.

  • Take time for personal prayer

Prayer is the foundation to discern your vocation and deepening your relationship with Christ. You can listen best when you remove yourself from the things that distract us and compete for our attention (cell phones, the radio, computers, traffic, and other noises) and place yourself in an environment of silence so as to listen to God. The time spent in silence may be difficult, or even uncomfortable at first, but perseverance is key. God speaks to you in the stillness of your heart. Do not be concerned with asking yourself “what should I do, or what should I be thinking,” but desire above all to be in God’s presence and allow God to be the one who acts.

  • Celebrate the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist

The Holy Spirit works powerfully when you approach the Sacrament of Reconciliation with humility and openness. Prepare for the Sacrament by making a good examination of conscience, and do not be afraid or embarrassed to confess your sins to a priest honestly.  This is an opportunity to trust more in God’s mercy than in your own sinfulness. You should get into the practice of going to confession frequently, at least once a month.

Certainly, you should be attending Mass every Sunday and on Holy Days of obligation, but it is very important for you to make an effort to attend Mass during the week when possible. Due to school and work schedules sometimes making it to daily Mass is not feasible. Whether you attend Mass during the week or not, you should take the time to prayerfully read and reflect on the Scripture readings from the day’s Mass. Christ speaks to us powerfully through the words of Sacred Scripture.

  • Find a Spiritual Director

Discerning the action of the Holy Spirit is much easier with the help of a priest or religious who can give sound spiritual guidance. Discerning your own motivations is difficult alone, and God’s action comes to light when you are able to express your intentions aloud to someone experience in the spiritual life. The spiritual director’s primary role is to listen to the movement of grace in your life. The foundation of this relationship must be in trust and honesty. Whenever you place your trust in your spiritual director, it shows humility and a sincere desire to see clearly God’s will in your life.

  • Contact the Vocation Director

Almost all monasteries and religious communities have someone appointed as the Vocation Director. The role of the Vocation Director is to help you further listen to what God is calling you, to answer your questions, and eventually discern whether or not you are being called to the community. Beginning the dialogue is important because it can help alleviate your fears and doubts. It is important to dialogue with the Vocation Director, especially since he or she is a professed religious who lives the joys and challenges of the particular way of life each and every day. Vocation Directors often ask important reflection questions that you may not have considered, which can be tremendously beneficial in your process of discernment. After talking with the Vocation Director, he or she may invite you to visit the community for a personal retreat or as part of a “Come and See” weekend experience.

  • Visit the Religious Community that Attracts You

Only so many questions can be answered on the Internet or addressed on the telephone, and at some point, you must experience firsthand the environment, encounter the community, and try the life (even if it is just for a weekend). Take the leap of faith, and do not be afraid to place your trust wholeheartedly in Christ. Before your visit, do not be weighed down with expectations of how you should feel or what you ought to experience. Simply be open and receptive to the Holy Spirit. It does not help to visit a community with an attitude that is closed off and says, “I’m just going so I can check this off of my list.” God’s grace is at work when you follow the Lord joyfully and cultivate praise and gratitude in your life.

Remember that there is no commitment or obligation when you initially explore religious life. It is a process of understanding how God is speaking to your heart. To explore your vocation is an exciting journey of faith!

 

In Sinu Jesu – When Heart Speaks to Heart

A new book has been issued by Angelico Press entitled: In Sinu Jesu: When Heart Speaks to Heart, The Journal of a Priest at Prayer.

Endorsed by Raymond Cardinal Burke, it chronicles the words that Our Lord and Our Lady revealed to the heart of a priest, a Benedictine monk, beginning in 2007.

In the introduction, it states that this priest was in great need of their intervention. Since he talks about a diagnosis of a serious illness, this may be part of his struggle but he also mentions that thirty years ago, when he received a call from the Lord to be “entirely Thy priest, as was Saint John…standing at the foot of the Cross,” it was a call “to which I did not know how to respond, or to which I found myself unable to respond fully.”

It is through Eucharistic Adoration that this priest has experienced  healing and strengthening. Not only did he experience a profound closeness to Jesus but he was also drawn into an intimate sharing in the life of Mary as another Saint John, at the foot of the Cross, interceding for God’s people, especially His beloved priests.

This remarkable book documents many aspects of the spiritual life: loving and being loved by God, the mystery of the Mass, Eucharistic Adoration and its power, trustful surrender, the homage of silence, priestly identity and apostolic fruitfulness.

With an imprimatur, this book has already had a profound impact on those who have read it.  At 300+ pages, it is fruitful meditative reading for a long winter retreat!

 

Father Hardon Memorial Mass

The annual Father Hardon Memorial Mass will once again take place on Friday, December 30, 2016, at 7:00 PM at Assumption Grotto Church in Detroit, Michigan.

It will be a Tridentine Mass commemorating the 16th anniversary of the death of the Servant of God, Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J., founder of the IRL.

If you would like additional information, please contact the Martian Catechists at (608)-782-0011.

Fr. Engelmar Unzeitig: Model for the Re-Evangelization of the Western World

Icon written by Lewis Williams, OFS
Icon written by Lewis Williams, OFS

Bl. Engelmar Unzeitig, a Mariannhill Missionary priest, was beatified in Germany on September 24, 2016. Known as the “Angel of Dachau,” Father Engelmar died of typhoid fever, contracted while caring for the sick in the infamous Nazi concentration camp.

In the beatification homily, the bishop of Wurzburg, Germany, said that Father Engelmar loyally embodied the Mariannhill motto: If no one will go, I will.” He volunteered to care for those with typhoid fever in the concentration camp, thereby sentencing himself to death. He learned Russian so he could teach the young Russian prisoners, sharing his food with them even though he himself had meager rations.

Three exemplary qualities of Father Engelmar emerge that are pertinent for us today, said the bishop:

The Mariannhill family of priests, brothers, students and CMM associates celebrate in Zambia.
The Mariannhill family of priests, brothers, students and CMM associates celebrate in Zambia.
  • However desperate our own situation may be, we still can give witness to the reality of Heaven.
  • As Father Engelmar kept his promise of readiness, made at ordination, how serious are we about the Gospel message even when we have to suffer because of it?
  • Father joined the Mariannhill Missionaries to be a missionary in a far-off land. When circumstances changed, he realized that even “in this Godforsaken camp, where evil rules and we could easily believe that in our suffering that we are deserted by God and the world,” he could still live his missionary vocation.

With the re-evangelization of Western Civilization as the challenge before us, let us keep Fr. Engelmar as our inspiration and intercessor so that we too may “live our faith authentically, humbly and thereby effectively.”

World Day of Cloistered Life

Catholics throughout the world are encouraged to support the cloistered and monastic life on World Day of Cloistered Life, Monday, November 21, 2016, the Memorial of the Presentation of Mary in the Temple.

“The primary purpose of World Day of Cloistered Life, traditionally known as Pro Orantibus Day (“For Those Who Pray”), is to support—both spiritually and materially—the gift of the cloistered contemplative life,” said Rev. Thomas Nelson, O. Praem., National Director of the Institute on Religious Life. Pope Francis reminds us that “it is an opportune occasion to thank the Lord for the gift of so many people who, in monasteries and hermitages, dedicate themselves to God in prayer and in silent work.”

Pope Pius XII first instituted this worldwide ecclesial event in 1953 to publicly recognize women and men who so generously give of themselves to this unique calling and who each day, from the various convents and monasteries spread throughout the world, offer prayer unceasingly. Pope St. John Paul II later expanded its celebration and encouraged Catholics to support this sublime vocation in any way possible.

Since his election, Pope Francis has highlighted the vital importance of cloistered contemplative life in the Church’s mission. In the recent Apostolic Constitution, Vultum Dei Quaerere, the Holy Father wrote that those who devote the whole of their lives to the contemplation of God “are a living sign and witness of the fidelity with which God, amid the events of history, continues to sustain His people.”

World Day of Cloistered Life has a special significance as the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy comes to a close. “The prayers and sacrifices of cloistered religious is the foundation of all the Church’s work of mercy,” said Father Nelson, “because their prophetic witness and prayerful presence secures the grace needed for God’s merciful love to reach even the most hardened and distant of hearts.”

 The nationwide effort to publicize World Day of
Cloistered Life (Pro Orantibus Day) is coordinated by the Institute on Religious Life. The IRL was founded in 1974 by Servant of God Rev. John A. Hardon, S.J., and is comprised of bishops, priests, religious and laity who support and promote the vowed religious life.

A FREE PDF packet of resources is available online, including a meditation for this occasion at CloisteredLife.com.

+ + + + +
The cloistered religious featured on the 2016 World Day of Cloistered Life logo is from the Dominican Nuns of the Monastery of the Blessed Sacrament in Farmington Hills, Michigan. The community’s website is OPNuns-FH.org.

A Prayer for the Forgotten Holy Souls

We often think of friends and family who have died and wonder if their immediate loved ones are praying for them after death. There are also the people who died long ago or who were ignored and abandoned in this life and have no one to pray for them now.  This is the prayer for all of these beloved children, awaiting to enter their eternal homeland.

souls(Czech artist Jakub Schikaneder’s 1888 painting “All Souls Day”)

O merciful God, take pity on those souls who have no particular friends and intercessors to recommend them to Thee, who, either through the negligence of those that are alive, or through length of time are forgotten by their friends and by all.

Spare them, O Lord, and remember Thine own mercy, when others forget to appeal to it. Let not the souls which Thou has created be parted from Thee, their Creator. They are Thy work, and though they  have sinned, they have been redeemed by Thee.

Vouchsafe, therefore, to look upon them  and to deliver them from the intolerable pain of absence from Thee; the light and love of all Thy creatures. Oh! place them in the number of Thy blessed Saints and citizens through Jesus Christ their Savior. Amen.

(Courtesy of the Desert Nuns)

l1-poor-souls-altarThis picture is of the side altar at St. Michael’s Church in Chicago, a church that survived the great fire. It is called the Poor Souls altar and shows a soul being raised from purgatory to be united with Christ through the intercession of a priest during Mass. Have a Mass said for a poor soul today!

A Latin phrase at the bottom inset of the Altar is translated as “The written book will be brought forth, in which the whole is contained whence the world is to be judged.”

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