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.
Shortly after becoming the Ordinary for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Archbishop Schnurr recorded a beautiful rosary for vocations that was produced by the good people at Sacred Heart Radio. While it has since been played daily on our local Catholic radio station, at that time we also had some CDs made of the recording. While we still have a few left that can be ordered online, we wanted to make them available for download as well!
Join us in prayer as we “beg the harvest master to send more laborers for the harvest” (Matthew 9:38).
Today is the second day of our novena for the men who are preparing for their ordination to the priesthood. Today we feature Deacon Jacob Willig who had this to say about approaching the day of ordination:
As I approach the altar of God, I think of Psalm 43:3 which is:
That I may come to the altar of God,
to God, my joy, my delight.
Then I will praise you with the harp,
O God, my God.”
Jesus Christ is our true Joy. He draws a priest to a deep intimacy with Himself. Saying the words of institution, calling down the Holy Spirit, standing in the place of Jesus. True intimacy with Christ is joy. Life in Christ at its core renews us and gives us the new life of the Resurrection in Him. Every time a priest stands at the altar in the person of Christ, he participates in this and God uses Him to share His gift of Himself with his people. What a joy!
I would like to pray for the gifts of counsel, courage, and fortitude. Some of these areas are ones in which I need to continually grow. I also pray that I might have the ability to be a compassionate, honest, and merciful confessor. I know that I will have a lot to learn as a priest, but I also hope to give it my all, to Not be Afraid and to continually put out into the deep! Please pray that I may be a holy priest.
To sign up to receive daily emails for this novena, click here.
God our Father,
you appointed Jesus Christ High Priest of the new and eternal covenant.
By grace you allow men to share in this priesthood and in his saving work.
May they preach the Gospel worthily and wisely, celebrate the sacraments faithfully and reverently, and pray without ceasing. May they be united more closely every day to Christ the High Priest, who offered himself for us to the Father as a pure sacrifice.
Bless, sanctify, and consecrate the men whom you have chosen and called to the sacred order of Priesthood. Through the Holy Spirit make their lives worthy of the mysteries they celebrate.
We ask this through Jesus Christ, our Priest and Lord. Amen.
Please join us for the rest of the novena and keep praying with us as the Church prepares to celebrate with them on the day of their ordination and to support them throughout their ministry.
If you missed the first day of the novena, please click here.
It is flying around the internet right now! Jim Caviezel shocked about 8000 young adults this past week during the SLS18 Focus Conference by coming on stage as a trailer for his new movie, St. Paul, Apostle of Christ (in which he plays the part of St. Luke), was about to play. And he further shocked them by taking 15 minutes to teach them about vocation and our universal call to holiness and our responsibility to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Enjoy!
March is a very busy time for Vocation directors both at the diocesan level and in religious communities and that means there are a plethora of opportunities for you to take some quality time to discern your vocation both within and without specific religious communities. Check out all these upcoming Spring discernment opportunities and make a plan this Lent to respond to that tug you feel on your heart.
MARCH 9: MONTHLY HOLY HOUR FOR CONSECRATED VOCATIONS
CHOSEN: Monthly Holy Hour for those discerning a Vocation or praying for Vocations – March 9, beginning at 8pm at Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center in Norwood OH. Sponsored by the Archdiocese Vocations Office and the Children of Mary. Chosen: Every 2nd Thursday of the Month. Come and bring a friend!
March 10-12: “Is it I, God? Discerning a Call to Religious Life”
Dominican Sisters of Peace invite single, Catholic women, ages 18-45, to attend a free “Come and See” Discernment Retreat designed to explore contemporary Dominican life for women. Experience Dominican prayer and community with the Sisters, reflect on God’s call for your life and explore contemporary Dominican life as a Sister. The retreat begins at 4:30pm Friday, March 10 and concludes at noon, Sunday, March 12 at the Dominicans Sisters of Peace Motherhouse, 2320 Airport Drive, Columbus, OH 43219. For more information, call or text Sister June Fitzgerald at 570-336-3991 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Participants may register online for the retreat or request a registration form at http://www.oppeace.org/thinking-about-religious-life. (Some travel assistance is available on a need basis.)
March 10-12: The door is open…will you walk in? Come and See Weekend
The Sisters of the Precious Blood invite all young women discerning a call to the religious life to learn about life as a woman religious, the meaning of our religious vows, the power of prayer and the reality of community in the life and minister of the Sisters. The retreat runs from Friday, March 10 at 5pm to Sunday, March 12 at Noon. Please register by March 3 to Sr. Patty Kremer, CPPS, Coordinator of Vocation Ministry at 937-609-0653 or email@example.com.
March 10-12: Missionaries of the Precious Blood Discernment retreat
The Missionaries of the Precious Blood are holding a discernment retreat on March 10-12 at St. Charles Center in Carthagena, Ohio. Men age 18 or older are invited to attend the retreat, which begins with dinner on Friday and ends after lunch on Sunday. To reserve your place at the retreat or to learn more, contact Fr. Steve Dos Santos, CPPS, director of vocations, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-228-9263.
MARCH 12: HOLY HOUR FOR PRIESTLY VOCATIONS
Come to a Holy Hour for Vocations to the Priesthood at Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary. The Holy Hour will take place in the St. Gregory the Great Chapel at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, located on the Athenaeum campus, 6616 Beechmont Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45230.
MARCH 17-18: MOUNT ST. MARY’S SEMINARY WELCOME WEEKEND
The Athenaeum of Ohio/Mount St. Mary’s of the West is once again hosting its annual Welcome Weekend for all men college-age and older who are discerning their call to the Catholic priesthood. The weekend begins at 4:30 on Friday evening and ends with dinner at 6:00 pm Saturday. There is no cost to attend. For more details or to register contact Fr. Schmitmeyer at 513-421-3131 x.2890 or email@example.com. You may also visit CincinnatiVocations.org and click on “Events.”
March 17-19: COME & SEE RETREAT: Glenmary Home Missioners
Men ages 15-19 are invited to visit with Glenmary priests and brothers, travel to a nearby mission, and share in community prayer and reflection. They will also have the opportunity to meet other men who are discerning their call. For more details or to register call 513-881- 7411 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
MARCH 23-25: PONTIFICAL COLLEGE JOSEPHINUM SPRING LIVE-IN
High school aged men who are discerning their call to the priesthood are invited to attend the Pontifical College Josephinum Spring-Live in from March 23-25. Men will have the chance to pray, eat and attend classes with current seminarians as well as get the chance to hear all about life in the seminary and the formation process. All who are interested in attending should contact the vocation office at 513-421-3131 or visit www.pcj.edu/discernment-seminary-life/visit-josephinum/.
March 24-26: Marianist Discernment Retreat
Open to all men and women ages 18 – 30 exploring the possibility of Marianist Religious life. For more information, please contact Sr. Nicole Trahan, FMI at email@example.com.
March 30-April 1: Congregation of the Holy Cross Come & See Weekend
The Congregation of Holy Cross welcomes high school juniors to a weekend at Old College, the undergraduate seminary on the campus of the University of Notre Dame, March 30 – April 1, 2017. Contact the Office of Vocations at 574-631-6385 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
March 31-April 2: Live Joyfully Retreat
The Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary of the Woods is hosting a weekend discernment retreat for women ages 18-42 at their motherhouse in Saint Mary of the Woods, IN. The retreat is free. Register on line at comeandsee.sistersofprovidence.org. For more details contact Editha Ben at 812-230-4771 or email@example.com.
APRIL 26: R U CALLED: DINNER FOR WOMEN DISCERNING CONSECRATED LIFE
Young women juniors in high school and older are invited to a great discernment opportunity on Wednesday, April 26 from 5-8pm. Women will hear from Sr. Tracy Kemme, SC and Jacquie Lustig, RC as well as from Archbishop Schnurr. They will have the opportunity to visit with numerous religious communities as well as other women in discernment. Register online by clicking the link above.
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