Today is the Feast of St. Francis de Sales, a patron of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and one of the greatest spiritual writers in the history of the Church. His most popular writing is his Introduction to the Devout Life which was written for the lay members of the Church to grow in holiness and to devote their entire lives for the love and at the service of God, our creator.
I have been thinking quite a bit about the term, “vocation”. As Luke Burgis and Dr. Joshua Miller, PhD point out in their book, Unrepeatable, we are each called, particularly, in our own way, for a definite purpose. This purpose is not given to any other person ever created. It is the very reason for our existence. God creates us out of love because he wants to share His love to the world through us! Therefore, in living out our lives, it is important for us determine our definite purpose and courageously express God’s love in a way that only we can!
St. Francis de Sales’s beautifully writes on this very topic:
When God created the world He commanded each tree to bear fruit after its kind;and even so He bids Christians,–the living trees of His Church,–to bring forth fruits of devotion, each one according to his kind and vocation. A different exercise of devotion is required of each–the noble, the artisan, the servant, the prince, the maiden and the wife; and furthermore such practice must be modified according to the strength, the calling, and the duties of each individual. I ask you, my child, would it be fitting that a Bishop should seek to lead the solitary life of a Carthusian? And if the father of a family were as regardless in making provision for the future as a Capucin, if the artisan spent the day in church like a Religious, if the Religious involved himself in all manner of business on his neighbour’s behalf as a Bishop is called upon to do, would not such a devotion be ridiculous, ill-regulated, and intolerable? Nevertheless such a mistake is often made, and the world, which cannot or will not discriminate between real devotion and the indiscretion of those who fancy themselves devout, grumbles and finds fault with devotion, which is really nowise concerned in these errors. No indeed, my child, the devotion which is true hinders nothing, but on the contrary it perfects everything; and that which runs counter to the rightful vocation of any one is, you may be sure, a spurious devotion.
So we see, as St. Francis puts it, even our devotion to God is going to be different for each individual, and yet, it is through our individual devotion that we come to express the very love of God in this world today. Through prayer and undivided devotion to God above all, we can come to understand our very being and the mission for which we have been created. Many of us will live out that mission as lay men and women, but for others, their missions will lead them to serve the world as priests and consecrated religious. Do we have the courage to become the person God has created us to be? Are we truly devoted to the Lord and his will for your life?
On this, the Feast of St. Francis de Sales, let us take more time to truly explore our devotion to God and to learn from one of the great spiritual masters of our Church.
Today is the feast of St. Alphonsus Liguori, the patron saint of those discerning the call to the priesthood. Born in 1696, as a young man, Alphonsus wanted nothing more than to please his father and to do whatever his father asked of him. That meant that instead of going to school he was privately tutored at home and received a doctor of law at the young age of 16 while also maintaining a good life of prayer and devotion to God. Soon, however, he started having success in the courtroom and he followed the life that his success offered. He began to neglect his relationship with God but still made his father proud by never losing a case in the first 8 years of his career. However, the ways of the world lost all their luster when he emphatically lost a case for the first time. He spent three straight days without food and, in a moment of clarity and grace, decided never to practice law again. Instead he returned to his life of prayer and service and it was in the midst of this service that Alphonsus heard God ask him to serve as His priest. Immediately, Alphonsus promised the Lord that he would be a priest, even though he knew it would displease his father. Three years later, at the age of 30, Alphonsus was ordained a priest and missionary and later founded the Redemptorist order.
While a priest, Alphonsus became a prolific writer and a sought after missionary preacher. He traveled many miles and preached to whomever needed to hear the word of God. Undoubtedly, this talented lawyer had truly found the path God had planned for him in his life! While many of his writings and sermons are very well known (his Stations of the Cross among the most popular), one of the most important works of his for those discerning the priesthood is his writings “On the Dignity and Duties of the Priest.” While the work is lengthy, we provide here the 12 maxims he gave himself while in formation for the priesthood. We hope that they can be of some guidance to you as you continue in your discernment. Recognize in these statements the importance St. Alphonsus placed on each of these items. While not all of these will make sense in your own daily life, given your current state in life, we encourage you, nonetheless, to take some time to reflect on the importance you place on these. Perhaps they will help you see an area in your spiritual life that might need strengthening. St. Alphonsus Liguori, patron of discerners, pray for us!
1. The cleric should frequent the society of holy priests, to be edified by their example.
2. He should spend at least one hour daily in mental prayer, that he may live in fervor and recollection.
3. He should visit the Blessed Sacrament frequently, especially during the time of exposition.
4. He should read the lives of holy priests, that he may imitate their virtues.
5. He must cultivate a special devotion to the Virgin, the Mother and Queen of the clergy, and consecrate himself particularly to her service.
6. For the honor of the ecclesiastical state he must be most careful of his reputation.
7. He should flee from worldly conversation, and not be too familiar with the laity, especially women.
8. Seeing God in his Superiors, he must obey them, because such is the divine will.
9. He should be modest, but without affectation, severity, or fastidiousness; and he should always wear the cassock and tonsure.
10. He should be quiet and gentle at home, exemplary in class, and edifying in church, especially during the public offices.
11. He should confess every eight days, and communicate still oftener.
12. He should live free from sin, and practise every virtue.
This weekend, March 10-12, marks the annual Ohio State CYO Basketball tournament! It will be held in the northern area of the Archdiocese all weekend beginning Friday evening in Russia, Ohio and ending on Sunday afternoon. As a special opportunity for all athletes, family and friends of the tournament, Fr. Dan Schmitmeyer will be celebrating a special Mass at 3:00 pm on Saturday, March 11th at the Maria Stein Relic Shrine Adoration chapel. All are welcome to attend! To get detailed directions to the Shrine click on the map below. While you are there, be sure to take some time to visit second largest collection of Holy Relics in the state, go on an audio tour of the!
Today we added to our website a new resource for all parish vocation ministries across the Archdiocese. Initiated by a group of women from Immaculate Heart of Mary in Anderson Township and passed along to our office, the Spiritual Motherhood of Priests prayer apostolate.
This movement comes out of a recommendation by the Congregration for the Clergy when they published a document back in 2007 entitled Eucharistic Adoration for the Sanctification of Priests and Spiritual Maternity. In this document we read, “Pope St. Pius X rightfully confirms his experience that, ‘Every vocation to the priesthood comes from the heart of God, but it goes through the heart of a mother!'” And in this statement he does not mean to limit motherhood to those who are physical mothers, but, along with Pope St. John Paul II, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, he extends that meaning to all women who commit their lives to holiness and to prayer for priests. Children, mothers, widows, religious sisters, all can be spiritual mothers and the world needs them to become just that!
Please, take the time to read the documents found on our resource page, be inspired by the power of a mother’s prayers, look into the other great information on Spiritual Motherhood and pray about becoming a spiritual mother yourself and bringing a Spiritual Motherhood Sodality to your parish.
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!
Last night at the Maria Stein Relic Shrine in Maria Stein, OH, lay men and women of the Sidney/St. Mary’s Serra Club gathered together to venerate a relic of a relatively unknown priest in California who was one of the most influential Franciscan missionaries of the United States. Father Junipero Serra worked to establish 9 different missions across what is today known as California and walked on foot, despite a chronically diseased leg, thousands of miles to attend to each of these new missions. He was a powerful witness of the gospel and was revered for his great fortitude and zeal for evangelization. Without a doubt, he was a man worth emulating.
In less than a month, Pope Francis will give us another reason to look more closely at this man’s life as he canonizes him on American soil at the papal mass on September 23, 2015! He will become the first saint to be canonized in the United States and the Serra Club who claimed him as their patron more than 60 years ago is ready to celebrate!
On Wednesday, afternoon, September 23rd at 3:30, all are invited to join the Serra Club of Cincinnati at Ruah Woods for a Canonization viewing party. They will provide drinks and food at no cost and they will live stream the Mass from EWTN in the New Evangelization Center. The celebration will last until 7:00 and all are encouraged to stop in for any and all of the festivities. The evening will conclude with an opportunity to pray for the intercession of the newly canonized saint!
To ensure there is enough food participants are encouraged (but not required) to contact Wayne Topp at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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