Tag Archives: Franciscans

When God Asks for an Undivided Heart

For those looking for answers to many practical questions about celibacy, we heartily recommend When God Asks for an Undivided Heart, by Fr. Andrew Apostoli,  CFR.

With clear, insightful reflections, Fr. Apostoli provides a penetrating look at consecrated celibacy based on his 40 years as a priest, spiritual director, and seminary teacher. Several bishops have already made this highly acclaimed work required reading for their seminarians.

Fr. Apostoli masterfully discusses a range of issues, including: 

  • Why so many people reject celibacy without truly knowing why
  • Celibacy in Scripture and Church history
  • Why clerical sex abuse is not caused by celibacy
  • How celibacy is a perfect expression of Christian love
  • The many fruits and gifts that come from celibacy, including lasting happiness and joy

The book is also a great resource for parents who are struggling to understand and accept their child’s vocation.

The following is from the foreword by Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR:

“Celibacy is one of God s greatest gifts to the world . . . and also one of the most misunderstood.  . . . Whether you are a young adult exploring a religious vocation, are already ordained, or are a member of the laity who wants to understand what the Church teaches and why, this is an important book for every Catholic to have. When God Asks for an Undivided Heart provides a sensitive, insightful look at the gift of consecrated celibacy. With his many years of experience in formation work and spiritual direction, Fr. Apostoli writes convincingly on this topic for the young adult considering the call to priesthood or religious life. . . . The concept of an undivided heart as the best road to a happy and productive celibate life is one that needs to be reaffirmed, as Fr. Andrew has done.”

Successful Chef Enters Franciscan Community

Dennis Narlock has cooked for Hollywood stars and built a well-known local catering business throughout the past three decades. But Narlock plans to walk away from his business and his cooking career at the end of the year. He says he will also give up his personal wealth and all his worldly possessions after joining a recently established Franciscan monastery in the Diocese of Fargo.

For the full story, check out “Leap of Faith: Grand Forks businessman gives up wealth to join religious order,” courtesy of the Grand Forks Herald. Hat tip to The Deacon’s Bench.

St. Bernardine of Siena

Today the Church celebrates the feast day of St. Bernardine of Siena. As a child in Southern California, I never heard about St. Bernardine, though the nearby city of San Bernardino (my brother called it “San Ber-doo”) was named after him. I only later learned that this 15th-century Franciscan priest was quite a dynamic evangelist and preacher.

He is perhaps best known for fostering devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. His “MO” was to travel from city to city throughout all of Italy carrying a banner with the large letters “IHS” (more on that in a minute) encircled by twelve golden rays surmounted by a cross.

I’ve always been curious about the “IHS,” which is found (thanks in large part to St. Bernardine) in many Catholic churches and on many religious items. There has been a certain amount of confusion on this. Some say it signifies “In hoc Signo vinces” (“In this Sign you will conquer,” referring to Constantine’s famous vision, with the nails on the emblem forming the “v”), while others say it’s the first letters of Jesus Hominum Salvator (“Jesus, Savior of Mankind”).

The most plausible and widely accepted interpretation that I’ve encountered is that it’s simply an abbreviated form of the name of Jesus, as it appears in Greek, The earliest recorded use of this monogram appears to be the eighth century.

Aside from all the history behind it, the important thing is that “IHS” has come to be recognized as a familiar symbol of the Holy Name of Jesus, a symbol that has been popularized over the past 500 years by Franciscans, Dominicans, and Jesuits. May we recognize, especially in our use of language, the holiness of the name before which “every knee shall bend” (Phil. 2:10).

Let’s close with the prayer of the Church:

You gave Saint Bernardine a special love
for the holy name of Jesus.
By the help of his prayers,
may we always be alive with the spirit of Your love.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. +Amen.

Thank You, Fr. Mike!

The Franciscan University of Steubenville has announced that its chancellor and past president Father Michael Scanlan, T.O.R. will be retiring on June 30, 2011. As most of our readers know, Fr. Mike–with the powerful assistance of the Holy Spirit–was the driving force behind the incredible renewal of Franciscan University, making it an internationally recognized center of  “dynamic orthodoxy” in recent decades.

As a graduate theology student at Franciscan University in the 1990s, I’m personally grateful for Fr. Mike’s leadership and the friendship he showed me and so many other people who have stepped on the Steubenville campus.

While he deserves some well-deserved rest from his labor, I am sure he’s especially gratified that the torch has been successfully passed to Fr. Terence Henry, T.O.R. and the rest of the current administration. Catholic families are still able to count on the university’s fidelity to its Catholic–and Franciscan–principles.

For more, see this article, courtesy of Catholic News Agency.

Meditation for Good Friday

Here is a translation of the sermon delivered by Father Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M. Cap., preacher of the Pontifical Household, at the Good Friday liturgy in St. Peter’s Basilica in 2008.

* * *

“When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four shares, a share for each soldier. They also took his tunic, but the tunic was without seam, woven in one piece from the top down. So they said to one another, ‘Let’s not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it will be,’ in order that the passage of Scripture might be fulfilled that says: ‘They divided my garments among them, and for my vesture they cast lots'” (John 19:23-24).

It has always been asked what the evangelist John wanted to say with the importance that he gives to this particular detail of the Passion. One relatively recent explanation Continue reading Meditation for Good Friday

Steubenville Vocations

Terry Mattingly, author of the syndicated “On Religion” column for the Scripps Howard News Service, posted an interesting piece last week entitled, “Future nuns, priests face big questions.”

By “big questions,” Mattingly is really talking about the perennial questions surrounding the discernment of one’s vocation, but with the added complications of today’s landscape, including the dramatic decline (and graying) of religious vocations in America in recent decades.

The primary focus of the piece, however, concerns the response to these “big questions” by students at Franciscan University of Steubenville, where vocations have been flourishing. For example, Mattingly points out that the Priestly Formation Program on campus has produced 400 priests (with many more still in formation) over the past 25 years.

He also mentions that “many of America’s 244 Catholic colleges and universities offer similar programs.” Of course, if there were 244 Steubenvilles, we wouldn’t be wondering about tomorrow’s vocations (except maybe about where to put them all!). As it is, very few colleges have fostered vocations the way Franciscan University has.

Mattingly gives several reasons why Franciscan University enjoys such success. Clearly the vibrancy, or what the school at times calls its “dynamic orthodoxy,” is very attractive.

Yet, I think Fr. Richard Davis, T.O.R., whom Mattingly quotes in the article, does well to stress the fact that there are three male and four female religious orders that maintain houses near the campus. Fr. Davis also pointed out that many other orders regularly send younger members to visit the campus or study there.

“Our students are very sensitive to this,” said Davis. “New styles of habits and robes keep appearing here all the time. The students see that and it makes them curious. . . . This campus produces a large number of priests, but I believe even more of our young women become sisters and nuns.”

Click here for more information on this summer’s youth conferences sponsored by Franciscan University of Steubenville.