For the past two years, Br. Henry Hoffman has studied as a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. He entered formation as a college graduate and a pre-Theology student. Over the past two years, Henry’s vocation has become more certain for him and has transformed at the same time. In the latest newsletter from the Community-in-Formation of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri, Br. Hoffman explains how he found the fullness of his vocation to the priesthood:
It is hard for me to believe that I have been in the novitiate for more than two months; the time has simply flown by. God is good and has poured out his goodness on me abundantly by bringing me to the Community-in-Formation.
I first encountered Saint Philip Neri while staying in Rome in the spring of 2014. I prayed often at his tomb in the Chiesa Nuova and believe it was there that he planted the seeds of my vocation to the Community. I learned a little about Saint Philip then, and was struck by his prayerfulness and joy, as most are who possess the least knowledge of him whatsoever. Little did i know at the time that he would become my patron and spiritual father. During the two years I spent in the diocesan seminary, I often came to Old Saint Mary’s because I loved the beauty and reverence of the Masses and devotion of the Community which offered them. Praying at Old Saint Mary’s sustained and encouraged my vocation and, eventually, I came to realize that God was calling me to be a part of this blessed place. May God reward all who prayed and sacrificed to make my vocation a reality and may they continue to do so.
My thirty-day visit, as part of the application process this past summer, went very well and I felt at home right away. I enjoyed the many opportunities to serve at the Sacred Liturgy and it seemed that God destined me for this Community. So, applying to officially enter the Community as a postulant and subsequently being clothed with the habit as a novice were part of a natural progression for me. From helping the poor, to working on the Pious House, to chanting Vespers on Sundays, the novitiate has been a blessed time of spiritual growth. I am humbled by the blessings that God has given me so far and by all of my imperfections which yet remain to be purged. The process of sanctification never ends and my journey has only begun. So, I beg all of you to pray for me. Please be assured of my prayers for you, too. Preferisco Paradiso!
The Franciscan Dauthers of Mary of Covington, Ky are opening their doors to anybody who would like to see what life is like inside a convent. This Sunday, February 8th, stop by the St. Benedict Convent at 336 E. 16th St., Covington, KY for a first hand look at convent living. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Exactly one month from this Sunday, on March 8th, teens from all over the Northern region of the Archdiocese will be coming together to celebrate our Eucharistic Lord in adoration and gain some practical tools to aid them in their path to true discipleship. The teens will hear an engaging presentation by experienced speaker Jacquie Lustig and will have the opportunity to meet and share a meal with members of various religious communities. The event runs from 5-9pm and costs $10 for all teens and includes an event t-shirt. All who are interested are asked to register through their youth ministers by calling Robin at the Spiritual Center: (419) 925-7625. For more information or to ask questions contact Wayne Topp at (513) 421-3131 x.2891.
Today’s vocation story comes from Matthew Leiser, SJ, a member of the Society of Jesus in his third year of formation with the order. Matthew was introduced to the order through the Jesuits at St. Francis Xavier parish in Cincinnati, OH.
Since a fifth grader I first felt a gentle invitation by the Spirit to consider religious life. I remember begrudgingly attending a family retreat that my dad dragged myself and my three siblings to. It was there while playing freeze tag with the other kids that I felt a tug on my heart. I simply can’t explain it anymore then a strong feeling of peace that stopped me dead in my tracks and made me think about Jesus and in sequence the priesthood.
Quite startled at the prospect of being a follower of Christ as a fifth grader I could not come to fathom the practicality of such a call. This would remain true Read More
Today’s vocation story comes from Sr. Cecilia Taphorn, CPPS, a sister of the Precious Blood. She currently serves on the leadership team of the Sisters of the Precious Blood in Dayton, OH and is a daughter of Nativity parish in Cincinnati, OH.
I grew up in Pleasant Ridge and went to Nativity grade school staffed then by the Sisters of Mercy. I think the my religious vocation began when I had a Sister that taught me in the sixth grade and who also taught me piano lessons. She was a very happy and kind person and left a huge impression on me.
After I graduated from eighth grade, I went to Regina High School in Norwood, Ohio, where the Sisters of the Precious Blood taught and lived in the convent attached to the school. I had many wonderful sisters for my classes, but my business teacher had a major influence on me. She, too, was very happy, kind and had a special way of acknowledging me. She went out of her way to talk to me and took an interest in my social life. As far as I can remember she never talked to me about being a sister.
I was a typical teenager. I was active in sports, went to parties, and was having fun. I remember walking to Nativity Church with my mother for daily Mass during Lent and to other devotions at the church. As a family we prayed the rosary each night. I had a feeling that I might have a religious vocation, but I didn’t want to enter the convent.
My mother taught me by her example that unless a person does what God wants, one will never be happy. Of course, I wanted to be happy, so every night in my senior year I prayed, “Lord, help me to want what you want.” I don’t think I ever mentioned to anyone about saying that prayer each night. Yes, God did answer my prayer.
In April of my senior year, after the sisters drove a carful of us girls to visit the Precious Blood Sisters’ motherhouse in Dayton, I knew that I wanted to become a sister. To see the sisters as truly human and happy was of utmost importance to me. Those two qualities assured me that I would not lose my individuality or my joy and love for life.
I entered the community the following August, 1959. In the Archdiocese of Cincinnati I taught at Precious Blood School in Dayton, Ohio from 1969-1971. I also served as the principal of St. Joseph School in Wapakoneta, Ohio from 1971-1978; Bishop Leibold School in Dayton from 1979-1986. Since then I served 18 years as Pastoral Associate at St. Mary Church in the Diocese of Columbus. I have tried to share God’s love in a personal way and to be a caring and life-giving presence. I am very grateful to God for calling me to serve the Church as a Sister of the Precious Blood. They have been not only happy but very rewarding years. I am now serving in a full time leadership team with the Sisters of the Precious Blood in Dayton.
What are the activities/careers that most interest you? Did you know that religious brothers, sisters and priests hold a job in nearly every career field? Have you thought of the possibility that you may be called to something more as a teacher, or nurse, or engineer?
Click here for more Vocation Stories.
(Can you tell I’m cleaning out the inbox/desk today?)
Returning to a previous theme, there were a number of questions submitted during talks to high school students, I pick them up when I get the chance. Today’s submission:
‘Where do priests get their salary?’
This sometimes comes as a bit of a surprise, but as a diocesan priest, I do get a salary. I own my car. I have a checkbook. I buy my own clothes, etc. On the other hand, members of religious communities do not get their own salary, but everything goes into the kitty for the community where they live. (Usually, they get something like an allowance, I guess. I’ll ask some of the religious priests I know.)
A diocesan priest’s salary, at least in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, is paid by the assignment which he currently holds. So, for me, I am paid directly by the Archdiocese because Read More
Perhaps the leading Catholic commentator working both in and outside the Church with his ‘YouTube’ commentaries and lead motivator behind the Catholicism Project, Fr. Barron reflects on his 25 years of priesthood, the current situation in the Catholic world and the call to sanctity as a priest. Excellent.
Many requests have come in for a reprint of Archbishop Schnurr’s homily from last night’s Cast Your Nets! He has graciously agreed to allowing it to be printed here.
The gospel we have just heard are the opening lines of the Sermon on the Mount which, in the Gospel of Matthew, is the first major instruction of Jesus in His public ministry. These opening lines are customarily referred to as the Beatitudes. Each of the Beatitudes begins with the word “Blessed,” as in “Blessed are the poor in spirit” or “Blessed are the meek.”
Because Jesus spoke in the Aramaic language, sometimes it is difficult to find a word in the English language that conveys all the meaning of the words that He used. Thus, some translations of the Bible use the word “happy” instead of the word “blessed,” as in “Happy are those who mourn.” This, however, seems to set up a contradiction. By definition, isn’t a person who is mourning unhappy?
To understand better the Beatitudes, we need to go back to the culture of Jesus’ time. In the original language and cultural mindset of Jesus’ time, to make a strong statement automatically implied that the hearer should consider its opposite. Only then would the full meaning begin to emerge.
Thus, “Happy are the poor in spirit,” becomes “Miserable are those attached to earthly possessions.” And isn’t it true that an inordinate attachment to material things brings all kinds of misery, such as jealousy, workaholism, and even fear of loss? Rather than being dependant on material things, the poor in spirit have reverence for God and child-like trust in Him.
“Happy are those who mourn” becomes “Miserable are those who can never let go.” Mourning is a natural and healthy process, by which we bring closure when we experience a loss. If people are unable to let go, however, it means they can never stop living in the past. They are unable to start over. They cannot look forward again. Those who mourn have a correct estimation of worldly events and are aware of God’s ever-present love.
“Happy are the meek” becomes “Miserable are the arrogant.” The meek will inherit the earth – it will be freely given to them. On the other hand, those who bully others can only take. They will not be “given” anything. Meekness is not weakness, but humility and faith in God especially during trails.
“Happy are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness” becomes “Miserable are those who hunger and thirst for evil things.” People can try to fill themselves up with all sorts of “stuff” – food, drugs, alcohol, money, fame – but in the end these leave the person even more empty. A fulfilled life does not get filled from the outside, but has a fullness that comes from the inside.
“Happy are the merciful” becomes “Miserable are the merciless.” People who bear grudges, who refuse to forgive, and who take revenge, are prisoners of their own hate. It eventually poisons all their relationships. The merciful imitate God by forgiving their neighbor and seeking to remedy injustices in the world.
“Happy are the pure in heart” becomes “Miserable are those who take things for granted.” Purity of heart is often interpreted to mean sexual purity, and it does mean that; but, in a broader sense, it means the ability to focus on what is really important in the present moment. One who is pure in heart exercises proper understanding, the gift of insight into what truly matters.
“Happy the peacemakers” becomes “Miserable are who create bitterness and division.” There are people in this world who have a deep need to feel offended, or to offend others. Peacemakers get to be a part of the grand family of the “children of God.” Those who foster bitterness and division, on the other hand, end up alone and lonely. The peacemaker is able to see the world as God sees it, and this brings personal peace.
“Happy are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake” becomes “Miserable are those who have no courage.” It isn’t always easy to stand up for what is right – yes, we can wind up persecuted. But who will ever trust us with what is truly important if we do not have the inner strength to hold on to it in the first place?
Everyone wants to be happy, and what we should learn from the Beatitudes is that God also wants us to be happy. He created us to be happy. But the happiness He offers us is not mere human contentment. It is a happiness that stems from the realization that proper order is being restored to our lives.
The Gospel of Matthew tells us that Jesus taught the Beatitudes while on a mountain. This is not an accident, and is meant to evoke the image of Moses, who descended from Mount Sinai holding the tablets of the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments were given to help the people understand what they must do to restore their life-fulfilling relationship with God, a relationship that had been lost due to the sin of Adam and Eve. The Beatitudes are often considered to be the completion of the Law of God. The Ten Commandments tell us what we are to do and what we are not to do in order that our relationship with God might be restored. The Beatitudes tell us why!
The happiness that the Beatitudes promise is the happiness that was experienced by Adam and Eve before their sin. The Book of Genesis tells us that they walked with God each day and that they lived in perfect harmony with one another and the world around them. Their happiness stemmed from an awareness of their perfect relationship with God, with one another, and with the world in which they lived. All of this was shattered because of sin.
The Beatitudes tell us that true happiness is once again possible, not only in the life hereafter, but here and now. It is not as the world understands happiness; but then sin turned the world upside down, and the whole purpose of Jesus coming into the world was to set things right again. Thus, He proclaims in the Gospel of John, “all of this I tell you that my joy may be yours and your joy be complete.” (Jn. 15:11) Complete joy, complete happiness! Who doesn’t want that?! This is what Jesus promises us; and by beginning His ministry with the Beatitudes, He tells us that He will show us how to get there.
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