A new poster is about to hit your parish bulletin boards (and if you don’t see it, ask for it!) and it features the faces of (almost) all the men and women in formation for the many religious orders of men and women who minister here in the Archdiocese. The men and women featured in this poster all come from, or are currently living in, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and it is great to see their faces right along side the men who are seminarians for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati!
In addition to the men and women on this poster, let us keep in our prayers the other men and women who have followed God’s will to join orders outside the Archdiocese and the sons and daughters of our parishes who have already taken their final vows and who are currently living out their religious vocation.
While I was running yesterday, I began praying the Sorrowful mysteries of the rosary. For me, these mysteries are especially good to pray during a long hard run as it becomes easier for me to contemplate the pain and suffering Jesus went through for me and therefore, the little pain of sore legs or labored breathing or mental fatigue that runners often experience become not so great that I must stop or slow down. Instead, I am able, when I am having a good day, to offer that pain up for others and connect even more greatly with Christ’s sacrificial suffering and death.
On this particular day of prayer, however, I realized that it is so easy (okay, maybe “easy” isn’t the BEST choice of words) for me to spend time with Jesus’ agony in the garden, and the scourging at the pillar, and the crowning of thorns and the carrying of the cross and even the crucifixion, but when I pray the stations of the cross, I have a really hard time spending time with Jesus in the tomb.
As I think about the times I pray the Stations of the Cross, the one station that always seems to “fall flat” on me is the last one. Why? Is it simply that this station is the last one and by the end of anything (even prayer) I am ready to move on to the next thing – I don’t give that station the time it deserves? Or is there something inherent in the station that kind of makes me uncomfortable? Or is it just that I know the ending – I know he doesn’t stay there – and so I think about the resurrection instead? I’ll be honest, I don’t know which one of these is the greatest factor and I assume that at different times each of them plays a major factor, but for this one run, I spent time with the tomb.
It is a natural inclination, I think, to not want to think about the tomb. There is a mystery about the grave that leaves so many questions to be answered. There is an uncertainty about it all. But there is also great hope, that this is not the end. However, before Jesus, this was the end. When Jesus dies, if he is just a man, this is the end. The stone stays there and the burial garments keep him wrapped. For the first time, perhaps, the Son of God is left in total darkness. The one who brought light to the world in his coming as a child in Bethlehem has just been swallowed by the earth and enveloped in total darkness. All we have left, all the apostles and disciples have left, is Hope. We can hope that this man is who is seemed to be, we hope that we have given our whole lives to follow a man who will truly lead us all to paradise. And we must dwell in that hope, with great anxiety, perhaps. And isn’t that the way it is in our lives sometimes?
We go through life skipping along sometimes, the world is bright and sunny and everything is going our way. In fact, by the grace of God, we are doing great things and we can feel light of Christ reflecting off us into the world. And then there are times when we can’t even find God in the darkness. We are left reaching and grasping and hoping that we are still on the right path, that God has not abandoned us. Perhaps it is our own sinfulness that turns us from that light, or perhaps it is a loving God helping us to know that even in the times we struggle, he is still there so long as we stay faithful to Him. It is in those times that we enter the tomb with Christ, and it is there, that we continue to have hope.
In the readings from this past Sunday (and I love the way God can work in our prayer lives if we allow him – I didn’t read the readings before going on this run!), we heard about God promising to raise us from our tombs (Ez 37:12-14) and we got to hear the story of Lazarus being called out of his tomb (Jn 11:1-45)! And what I love about both of these readings is that God must call us out of those tombs. God is our creator; God is our redeemer! God made us and God will call us back to Himself on the last day! It is our duty to know the voice of our creator and to respond when he calls!
There will be times of darkness, there will be times of uncertainty, but those times can be filled with faith and with hope. We don’t need to be afraid of the tomb. Instead, let us enter it willingly and as this season of Lent comes to a close, let us spend a little more time contemplating the darkness.
Tomorrow, April 3rd, marks the last opportunity for high school men to dine with Archbishop Schnurr and hear a great presentation on life in the seminary! Taking place at St. Christopher in Vandalia, this dinner is open to all men who are in high school and have considered that they might be called to the priesthood. It is not only for men who are considering entering the seminary this year or next year, but it is for any young man who just wants to learn more.
The dinner will run from 5:30 – 8:00 pm and will include prayer with the Archbishop and seminarians of the Archdiocese. If you are interested, please speak to your pastor, pastors, please speak to the young men of your parish, and parents, encourage your young man (or men) to attend! It is an evening these young men won’t soon forget!
The Serra Club of Cincinnati is undertaking a huge project for priestly vocations. For 9 days straight, May 12-21, 2014, from 9am-9pm, members of the Serra Club and anyone else who would like to help will be reading the Bible from cover to cover to pray for an increase of priestly vocations in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.
The Serra Club is an international organization founded under the name of Blessed Junipero Serra who was a missionary in California and who helped to establish missions (mostly traveling on foot despite suffering from complications from being bitten by a poisonous snake) from San Diego to San Francisco. This organization was founded by just 5 business men who began meeting regularly to discuss the ways they can live out their Christian beliefs in their work place. That meeting eventual gave way to a mission to help support and promote vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Since 1935, that mission has continued and the Cincinnati Serra Club has helped to further that mission right here in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati since its founding in 1973.
This special project is a further extension of the great work Serra Club does to promote and support priestly vocations. The Bible Reading Novena will take place at the Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center in Norwood and requires the use of many, many practiced public speakers/readers! Help is needed!
- are a lector at your parish
- know someone who is a lector, or
- have other practiced public reading/speaking skills
please sign up today to fill at least one of the 216 available slots!
The Serra Club is also hoping to record the entire Novena and make it available online and are accepting donations to help offset the costs of such a production at any PNC Bank.
Let’s all pray together for an increase in young men willing to accept this supernatural call to the Holy Priesthood!
The following is a “Letter from the Pastor” sent in to us by Fr. John Tonkin, pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus in McCartyville. This letter will appear in this weekend’s bulletin in his parish and I thought his words should be heard by all as they speak poignantly to the responsibility we all have and the urgency with which we must act in raising up good and holy priests:
When I travel and attend Mass at other parishes, I like to bring back a copy of the bulletin to see what is happening in that part of the world, to see if there is something I can learn and use in our parish. Some of you also bring me bulletins from other parishes you visit in your travels. Recently, Diane Reiss brought me a bulletin from Sacred Heart Parish in Ely, Nevada. Here is an excerpt from Fr. McShane’s Pastor’s Letter: I will be absent next weekend March 15 & 16 with my annual attendance at the LA Religious Education Congress. Because there is no available priest to take my place, we will have a Communion Service instead of Mass. I wish I could have had a priest to replace me, but there was no priest able to come.
If we think that can’t or won’t happen here, then we are fooling ourselves. In the year 2020, just six short years from now, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati will have more retired priests than priests actively assigned to parishes as pastors or parochial vicars. Just as the baby boomers are swelling the ranks of retirees in the secular world, so are the baby boomer priests becoming eligible for retirement. Some day in the not-so-distant future many parishes will feel the pinch—and for some it will be a death knell. So what can we do about it? For one, we need to continue to pray individually, as families and as a parish community for more men to answer the call to ordained priesthood within the Catholic Church. And, we need to turn our prayer into action. A 2012 study by CARA showed that when three or more individuals actively support a young man or woman who is giving serious consideration to the priesthood or religious life, then that individual is more than five times more likely to give the calling strong consideration than if they did not have that support. We as a parish and we as individuals need to continue to foster vocations among our young men. When we see someone and he has the qualities that make a good priest (the same qualities that make a good husband and a good father), then it is our responsibility to point it out to him and ask: Have you ever thought about being a priest? God has not stopped calling men to the priesthood. But have we stopped asking?
To begin answering this call, please plan to join us in prayer for priestly vocations tomorrow, Thursday, March 27 from 7-8 pm. We will offer a Holy Hour for Priestly Vocations at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West but for whose who can’t make it, please take some time during that hour (or the whole hour) to pray for more young men to answer the call God has place on their heart and for you to recognize those young men so that you can give them encouragement as they begin their journey.
Over the next couple of weeks, the vocation office is going to be out and about quite a bit and you are invited to join us!
For high school teens:
***CORRECTION***Monday, March 24th there is an Andrew Dinner for all high school young men who have thought about becoming a priest and who want to know more about seminary life. The dinner is held with Archbishop Schnurr at Guardian Angels in Cincinnati from 5:30-8:00 pm. Reserve your spot by calling your pastor.
On Saturday, March 29th, hear from people who have sought and followed the will of God in their lives at a Vocation Panel discussion for teens and parents from 5-6:30 pm at Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center in Norwood. This discussion is FREE to attend and includes a pizza dinner! Then stay for an exciting Encounter with the Lord in the Eucharist from 6:30-10pm. This evening event includes a fantastic guest speaker, teen witness talks and Eucharistic adoration and procession. It closes with time for socializing and refreshments. See the promo video here.
The weekend of April 5-6 is another opportunity for high school young men to learn more about life in the seminary is at the College Live-In Weekend at the Pontifical College Josephinum. There you will have the opportunity to join in the community life of the seminary and meet with other young men from the Archdiocese who are currently discerning their call to the priesthood through their formal formation at the seminary. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to register for this weekend.
On Saturday, March 22nd, from 9-Noon at the Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk Center in Dayton, there is a Men’s Discipleship Visioning Day for all Catholic men. Come to share in providing a vision for the way the Church can reach out to men and make them true disciples of Jesus Christ and be inspired by the impact that vision can have! Space is limited, so you’ll need to register. Check out the details here.
On Thursday, March 27th from 7-8pm, there will be a Holy Hour at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West/the Athenaeum of Ohio to pray for vocations to the Priesthood. If you are unable to attend at the seminary, please mark your calendars and pray during that hour at your local parish or in your homes. Let us together “Beg the master of the harvest to send more laborers into the field.” See the Adoration for Vocations flyer.
On Saturday, April 5th, there will be a Square Dance to raise money for Run for the Call, a team of runners who have dedicated themselves to supporting seminarians through sacrifice, prayer and raising funds. These funds go to seminarians who find themselves in emergency situations or who find they cannot afford the cost of a college seminary education. The square dance, which includes food and refreshments, runs from 6-11pm and the cost is $8/person. See the Square Dance flyer for more details.
This coming Sunday, March 9, Msgr. Frank Lane, Spiritual Director at the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West, is presenting the first of three lectures on the Nature of Secularism and its impact on faith and culture.
Msgr. Lane holds a Ph.D. in History from The Ohio State University and is a popular speaker, not only in the Cincinnati area, but nationally; appearing at each of The Coming Home Network’s Deep in History Conferences. The lectures are scheduled from 7-9 pm on March 9, April 6 and May 4; and will be held in the Bartlett Pastoral Center on the grounds of the seminary: 6616 Beechmont Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45230.