If you have been considering your call to the consecrated life, the month of March is going to be a virtual smorgasbord of opportunities for you to take the next step in your discernment. If you haven’t considered your vocation in the past, or are not currently feeling called to the consecrated life, we have a few opportunities for you as well!
March 8 from 8-9pm – CHOSEN: Holy Hour for Your Own Vocation @ Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center in Norwood, OH- The Children of Mary host a monthly holy hour for people who are discerning their vocation and to pray for an increase of consecrated vocations. Come pray with us!
March 11th from 5-9pm– Cast Your Nets: Love Greater@ Sacred Heart of Jesus in McCartyville, OH – This is a high school youth rally/evening of awesomeness that includes a keynote presentation by husband and wife, Bradley and Meghan Barnes, live music by Kevin Schulze, workshops that help you put your faith into action, food, confessions and Eucharistic adoration! Cost for the event is $10 which includes the cost of the event tshirt!
March 14th from 5-8pm– RU Called? Dinner for Young Women@ St. Francis de Sales in Lebanon, OH – This evening dinner for young women discerning the consecrated life (in all its forms) will feature dinner and prayer with Bishop Joseph Binzer as well as the opportunity to speak with and learn from sisters from various communities who minister in and around the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. There is no cost for this event. Register here!
March 15-17 – PCJ Spring College Live-in Retreat in Columbus, OH – This weekend retreat at the Pontifical College Josephinum is for all high school juniors and seniors who are considering their call to the Catholic priesthood. There is no charge for this wonderful weekend opportunity. All who are interested are asked to contact Fr. Schmitmeyer and to fill out the forms available online.
March 17th from 6-8pm– Run for the Call Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser @ St. Remy Hall in Russia, OH – This annual fundraiser organized and run by the Serra Club of Sidney/St. Mary’s will feature homemade sauce by Fr. Martin Fox, pastor of St. Remy, and proceeds all benefit our seminarians who find themselves in need of emergency financial assistance throughout the year.
March 18th from 3-5pm– Sr. Mary Xavier’s Story@ Russia High School in Russia, OH – This fun, family friendly event will feature local Anna native speaking about her experience of going from giving her all on the court at The Ohio State University to giving all of herself to God as a Sister of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George. You don’t want to miss Sr. Mary Xavier join in the friendly basketball competition, too!
March 27th at 7pm – Chrism Mass @ St. Peter in Chains Cathedral in Cincinnati, OH – It is at the Chrism Mass every year when the priests of the Archdiocese gather not only to receive the blessed oils for their parishes, but also to renew the promises they made upon their ordination and to receive encouragement from their shepherd, Archbishop Schnurr. We highly recommend attending this Holy Week Mass to be renewed in your own discernment journey and in the gift of the priesthood.
April 13-14 – Welcome Weekend@ Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West in Cincinnati, OH – This weekend retreat is for college age men and older who are discerning their call to the priesthood. This is a great next step in your discernment journey as you start to see just what it would be like to live in the seminary while continuing your discernment. Register for the weekend here.
This weekend offers two fantastic opportunities for people of all ages to praise our Lord in the Eucharist!
On Friday, November 18th, Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West is hosting another Vigil Praise event in the St. Gregory Chapel from 7-8 pm with a social following the holy hour. This event is led by the seminarians at Mount St. Mary’s and features a keynote talk by Fr. Eric Wood, a 2015 graduate of the seminary and parochial vicar of St. Francis de Sales, Lebanon and St. Philip, Morrow. He will be speaking on the Year of Mercy and the responsibilities of all Christians found in Matthew 25. This event is open to people of all ages including families!
The very next day, Saturday, November 19th, offers another great opportunity for high school teens to come worship our Eucharistic Lord and to join in a great discussion about most of the permanent vocations of the Church (i.e., priesthood, religious life, consecrated single life and married life) during a Vocation Panel at Immaculate Heart of Mary in Anderson Township from 6-7 pm. The panel discussion, which will take place in Heritage Hall on the IHM campus includes FREE pizza for all participants and chaperones. Directly following the panel is Encounter, the quarterly Eucharistic worship event for high school teens that leads them in an encounter with Jesus Christ and also allows them the opportunity to receive the sacrament of reconciliation. Encounter will take place in the IHM church. For more information and to complete the necessary permission slip, contact your local youth minister or Encounter Cincinnati.
Don’t miss these wonderful opportunities to be close to our Eucharistic Lord and to be challenged by his presence to become the person he has created you to be!
I just read an article on medium.com from the Heritage Foundation on young adults’ attitudes toward marriage today. While it is true that findings of some research quoted in the article may not necessarily expand to the general population it pointed to a secular realization of a spiritual reality regarding marriage.
As we learned in our interviews with over 100 young adults in a mostly white working-class town in Ohio, most young people are neither adamantly opposed to marriage nor completely supportive: They are conflicted about marriage. They hope to get and stay married, providing for their own children the family stability that many of them did not have growing up.
Young adults today are conflicted about marriage. As the article goes on to explain, they are not opposed to marriage. To the contrary, it seems that they believe marriage is the ideal and it is unreachable. They desire for themselves what they believe marriage should be: long lasting, totally committed (perhaps sacrificial?) love for one person for the rest of their lives. They just don’t think they can attain that given all they have heard and experienced in their personal lives.
So much of that resonates with the state of all vocational discernment today. There are many men and women today who look at the priesthood and religious life and see so many unhappy, unfulfilled men and women. They might also recognize that there are even more who are joyful and satisfied, but they don’t trust that they can become one of the vast majority that is happy.
I believe this mindset is a symptom of not having a personal relationship with our Living God. The truth is, that the more one commits to his relationship with Jesus Christ and dedicates his life to giving it to the Lord, the more likely it is that he will be able to give himself entirely to his spouse (whether that is the Church herself or his wife). He will understand and will have already experienced what it is to think of himself second and want only what the one he loves wants of him. He will have understood that even when much is expected of him or when it seems like he is being put to the test by the one he loves so dearly, it is not for lack of love that he is being tested, but because it is another opportunity to choose to love and to recognize just how much more he can love. In this relationship with God, we learn what it is to trust, to have faith, and to truly love!
Marriage is not something one should have as a goal in life, but it is something into which one is called by God. “Who do you want me to be and how do you want me to serve you?” These are the first questions we should all ask God as we begin thinking about our future. If the answers to those questions lead us to marriage, then it is only through the relationship we have already built with Christ in exploring the depth of those questions that we can take the leap into marriage with confidence.
One of the many questions that a seminarian is asked is “how does one discern God’s call?”, especially to the priesthood. This is a question that for me is hard to answer. Many times people see seminarians as people who have discernment all figured out and mastered. While this would be great if true, seminarians have just as hard of a time figuring out how to discern. This is something that I have to think about and contemplate on a daily basis. It was not until last month that I finally think I can understand discernment better.
Last month, the seminary had their annual retreat down at St. Meinrad Seminary in southern Indiana. The retreat was lead by international writer and speaker, Fr. Larry Richards. This retreat has changed my life in many ways, but one in particular is that of discernment. At this retreat Fr. Larry talked to us about Holiness, and one of the resounding themes is having a relationship with God. Not only just having a relationship with God, but understanding how much He loves us and how we should love Him. This relationship is more that that of two friends, it is so much more than that. This relationship is of a Father and Son. For we were made in God’s image and likeness, and He loved us so much that he sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for us.
This relationship is almost indescribable. We are able to cry out to our God saying Abba, daddy, to the very God that created the whole universe and all that is contains. This is where discernment starts. It starts with God our Father. We have to start with crying out to our Father and knowing how much He loves us and desires a relationship with us. Forming a relationship with God is one of the most important steps into having a healthy discernment. No matter what vocation you are called to, one thing will always remain constant within every calling: A loving relationship with God our Father. Through this relationship and love we are able to know Him, walk with Him, know what He is calling us to, and most importantly, are not afraid to do the things that scare us in a particular vocation.
Now, this may seem like an impossible task; we sin, do bad things, say things we shouldn’t, etc. and we make God angry. However, God is not calling us to only form a relationship with Him when we are perfect; quite the opposite actually. God wants us to come to Him in our broken state. God does not just leave us out to dry when we fall; hence why he sent His Son to redeem us and allows us access to the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist. He wants us to depend on Him and know that He can save us from our brokenness.
Many people do not think they can have a good relationship with God and His Son because of their sin. Many have a dictator-like persona of God. There is a very important lesson I learned this year on this very question. It is not that God is mad when we sin because He said not to do it. No, He is worried about us when we sin, and He hates to see us enslaved to sin. God is not someone who sits in heaven wagging His finger at you when you sin, but one who sits in Heaven who wants you not to sin because not sinning will make you happy and is good for you. Sin corrupts us and turns us into slaves of ourselves and evil. God is not out to get us; He is here to love us and help us one day spend eternity with Him. This is an important lesson in forming a relationship with God.
As stated before, this is a relationship with God, and with that means it is something we have to work on. I can tell you that many priests who have been ordained for years are still working on their relationship with God. This is not to scare us however; as a relationship takes time. It helps us to realize a very important point: Vocation is not about ourselves, but for He that calls us. Through this relationship with God we begin to realize what He is calling us to more and more.
To look at priesthood specifically, this call has as it’s root a call from God the Father to a loving relationship with Him and to be an instrument of His love to His Church. This can seem like a hefty job that God calls a young man to do, but to echo the words of Pope St. John Paul II “Be not afraid!” God knows that a young man has to give up certain worldly pleasures for this call, but it is important to note that God calls a young man to the priesthood because He has made Him for that purpose and He knows the young man can do it. This is true for any vocation that God calls people to. God doesn’t call us to something we cannot do; He calls us to what He knows we can do for His Greater Glory and Love.
Now, this may seem like a young man entering seminary must have it all worked out before entering, and that you must have this great relationship with Christ. This cannot be further from the truth. Seminary is a time of formation where you learn new and better ways of forming your relationship with God. These 9 years of seminary are not here because it takes 9 years to learn how to be a priest. These 9 years are here to help form men be rooted in a strong relationship with God and how that translates into priestly ministry. Seminarians work everyday to form their relationship with God, and that means there is no one easy way to do that. Each guy is different. A young men entering may have many doubts, fears, and uncertainty about what this life can lead to. That is normal and every guy goes through that. You are not alone. One may have many fears about God and His love, but through formation a young man is able to discover a healthy relationship with God, the root of any vocation. Let us pray daily that we may accept God’s love and grow closer to Him.
Merry Christmas!! What joy it is to know that the Savior of the world has come and will come again that we may be with him in Heaven for all eternity! And yet, as many of us have realized throughout the Advent season, there are things that we still need to do to remain ready for the second coming.
The beginning of John’s gospel contains these two verses: “In the beginning was the word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1), and “And the word was made flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only son, full of grace and truth” (John 1: 14). These two verses point to a reality that so many of us either have taken for granted much of our lives or have just not realized: Jesus is the Word. God is truly present in the Word and, in fact, God IS the Word.
I was at Mass with my wife and five young children a few weeks ago and when it came time for the Gospel Acclamation, our youngest, who was in my arms at the time and had previously been squirming around me like one of those little chinchillas, turned and watched as the Deacon began making his way to the altar and slowly processing to the ambo with the book of the Gospels held high. During this whole time, my son was mesmerized. He began pointing at the book and reaching for it. What could have made him change so quickly from a South American rodent into a focused young boy in such a short time?
There are, of course, so many factors that could have drawn my son’s attention at that moment. The fact that we had all stood up at that moment, or the fact that the Deacon had moved from his place by the priest, or the fact that two young men were carrying candles, or perhaps it was the first time he noticed the big shiny book on top of the altar, or maybe it was that he noticed the book but, since it was in someone’s hands he knew this was his chance to get it. All of those could easily explain his sudden change in behavior, but those are not what made me reflect that day. To me, there was something special about that book that my son noticed, there was something that was drawing my son to that book at that moment and I knew that I should be drawn to it as well.
In Psalm 63 we read, “O God, you are my God—it is you I seek! For you my body yearns; for you my soul thirsts, in a land parched, lifeless, and without water.” In that moment, my son’s body was pining to be near to God. Perhaps it was the shiny book cover or the candles, or whatever other explanation, but he was reaching for God in that moment and he was reaching in the right place. Jesus gives himself to us in two ways at every Mass. He gives himself to us in his Word and he feeds us with his body and blood in the Eucharist. So often times we nod off, or don’t pay attention to the first half of the Mass because it is just a bunch of words. “Perhaps they are special words because they are in the Bible,” we say to ourselves, but do we realize that not only are they special words, but they are truly a gift of God, from God?!
As we enter into this new calendar year and celebrate the coming of Jesus as savior of the world at Christmas, let’s make a resolution to be attentive to the Gift of God in the word each and every time we go to Mass and to spend time daily seeking that gift as well. It is in doing so that He will begin to truly reveal to us the person he has created to be.
If you would like to make a commitment during 2016 to read the Bible everyday, here is a good place to start for advice and a plan to read just 10 minutes a day and make your way through the entire Bible!
In just over a month from today, the nation will once again celebrate a week dedicated to the prayer for vocations. This is a week when we remember the need of our local church for more seminarians, priests and religious, but it is also a week when we remember that God has created each of us for a definite purpose. While we want to pray for more priests and religious, we need to be open to the calling that God has placed on each of our hearts as well. Have you been created to give yourself entirely to one person for the rest of your life and through that marriage bring forth new life and lead them with you to heaven? Have you been created to give yourself entirely to all the people in a local church at the service of the Gospel and to stand in the place of Christ in the most important moment in the lives of your parishioners? Have you been created to love God above all and to be a bride of Christ, being a witness of the marital union we can all hope to attain one day in heaven? Have you been created to witness to the love of Christ in the world as a single person who is entirely satisfied by the love Christ offers you? Each of these paths are a unique calling and each one of us has been created to follow one of these paths in our own unique way, giving all our gifts and talents to the service of God in the way he has created us to use them!
That is what Vocation Awareness Week is about and that is why we are so excited to celebrate in many ways once again this year:
– Vocation Lesson plans have already been sent out to schools and parishes across the Archdiocese. These lesson plans are for all students in grades kindergarten through high school and also have lessons to share in a youth ministry setting. To access these plans simply go to www.vocationlessons.com and type in the access code CinciVocations513.
– The entire Archdiocese will have the opportunity to join with Catholics from across the entire state of Ohio in Eucharistic Adoration during a Statewide Evening of Adoration on Wednesday, November 4th. All parishes are invited to open their doors for this special evening, but more details along with a list of parishes who have already told the Vocation Office of their participation will be published soon. If your parish would like to join that list, please contact Wayne Topp at firstname.lastname@example.org.
– The Serra Club of Cincinnati will be praying through the entire Bible in a Nine-Day Bible Reading Novena starting on November 2nd. At the beginning of each book they will dedicate their reading to an increase of religious vocations in the Archdiocese and will pray together the Archdiocesan Prayer for Vocations written by Archbishop Schnurr. All able readers are encouraged to get involved by visiting www.fiveminutechurch.net and clicking on the Sign Up Genius link.
Yesterday we posted the first half of an article written by Ms. Dawn Hausmann, Vocation Coordinator of the Diocese of Lansing. Today she attempts to finish clarifying her statement yesterday (and the teaching of the Church) that the single life is not a vocation but rather all vocations require a total gift of self for another.
Let’s begin with the beginning. We are made in the image and likeness of God who is Love. This God comes to earth and takes on flesh to show us the ultimate calling and fulfillment of man: to love, and what it requires of us. We see this as we contemplate Christ on the Cross. He gives a total and irrevocable gift of himself to us, his bride, the Church. People begged him to get down from that cross, to save himself, but he went to the end for us, gave his life for us. Therefore, we see in Christ that the greatest response to the calling of love begs for a total and irrevocable gift of ourselves. He shows us the fulfillment of man is in the sincere gift of himself. Guadium et Spes states, “Christ, the final Adam, by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear…” (#22) later it writes, “…Man cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself.”(#24) The way we as humans can totally and irrevocably give ourselves away in love is through a vocation that requires a vow or promise for life, a commitment that promises to remain faithful to the unknown future. How else could we promise our future away besides in a permanent commitment?
Even in light of the truth revealed in and through our bodies, we see the call to love. The complementarities of the man and woman’s bodies reveal the vocation to be gift-of-self, to another in love. Fulfillment is not found in ourselves but by being given away to another. Salvation is relational. The calling of love is relational. Blessed John Paul II said this in Familiaris Consortio, “Christian revelation recognizes two specific ways of realizing the vocation of the human person in its entirety, to love: marriage and virginity or celibacy. Either one is, in its own proper form, an actualization of the most profound truth of man, of his being “created in the image of God.”(#11)
In the vocation to marriage, we see a living image or icon of God as love, as Trinity, faithful and fruitful love. As stated in Ephesians 5:21-32 “Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ…This mystery has great significance but I am applying it to Christ and the Church.” The love of spouses requires a total, faithful commitment to one another. The total self-gift of the spouses, ”…in good times and bad, sickness and health, till death do we part…” reveals God’s faithful love to us. Marriage also reveals the fruitfulness of Love, of God, through the reality of the spouses’ continual openness to life.
In the vocation to consecrated life, virginity or celibacy for the Kingdom of God, we see the person give a total and irrevocable gift-of-self to God and His people, anticipating in a bodily way, the reality of the Kingdom to come, where we will all be united to Christ as his One Bride. This vocation reveals the true destiny and dignity of the vocation to marriage, the ultimate goal of union with God in heaven. Consecrated men or women live out their love for God in and through the gift of themselves to the Church. This vocation reminds us of our greater family of God that includes all of God’s children, not just our immediate families. They love and serve the people of God as Spiritual Mothers and Fathers, helping them get to heaven by growing in knowledge and love for God.
Both of these permanent vocations reveal who God is as Love and who the human person is meant to be as love, as gift. God reveals the call we have by being in His image, the call to love and life, the faithful and fruitful love of God. We are gift and our fulfillment is found only in and through making a “sincere gift of ourselves”(gs 24). We are given this capacity to love like Him from the gift of our Baptism and it is our responsibility and task to respond to this call. This call invites those of us who are single to remain open and ready to make a committed gift-of-ourselves to God in the marriage or consecrated vocations while still continuing to live out our Baptismal call of love and holiness here and now. God bless you.
For further research of this topic, please see the following resources:
- Called to Love by Carl Anderson and Jose Gradados.
- Familiaris Consortio: Online|Book
- Article: www.pathsoflove.com/blog/2008/08/single-vocation-marriage-or-religious-life/
- Blessed John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body”
- All the General Audiences that make up ToB
- Great resource for articles and further reading: TheologyoftheBody.net
- ToB Teaching with Christopher West: theTheologyoftheBody.com
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