Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Commentary for November 1st by Sr. Kathleen Yeadon, OSB

Over the years, as I have taught the Beatitudes at school, I have introduced the idea of changing Bishop Chatard’s mascot from the Trojans to the Beatitudes. It is one of the few times where there is absolute silence –including the one time, the President of the school was sitting there.

The Beatitudes have been for me a lightning rod—attractive and inviting but when I get too close---deadening. The Beatitudes are like Chapter 72 of the Rule—so awesome to think and reflect on but so beyond my wildest dreams of living up to it.I am happy to be able to say—they still call out to me—to keep trying—to believe in the impossible dream.

This week when I began reflecting ---they became a photo album of people who have mirrored them for me. They also reflected events that have gone on in my life where I attempted to guide my life by these verses.

The Gospel passage has also shown me how I have changed over the years. I used to not even be able to say the word meek because all I ever wanted to be was strong.

Peacemaker was not in my working vocabulary either. Now, I appreciate the changes that have occurred in my life.

Normally, when I can’t achieve something, I just give it up and concentrate on something else. The Beatitudes won’t let me give up, they slow down and walk with me ever so gently inviting me to try in small ways to make them visible.

Blessed are those who don’t let fear turn them from the narrow road—for they shall run with hearts wide open with inexpressible joy.

Friday, October 30, 2009

8th Graders serve at the Cathedral Kitchen

Serving God's people meant a lot to me because I got to serve food to people who don't have food to serve themselves. It was a good experience because I saw 1st hand what these people are going through. It was really cool when one of the men stood up and started saying grace. Another man came up to us and told us a joke. It was funny once I figured out what the joke meant! I liked serving God's people at the kitchen. I'm looking forward to going again the next time!

(Liam M. 8th)

Working at the soup kitchen was an interesting experience. It wasn't quite what I was expecting. I've never done anything like it before. At first I was a little nervous because I didn't know how the neighbors would react being served by kids. I could tell it meant a lot to them. Most the people were respectful. I found them to be nice and thoughtful, too. Some even asked how my morning was going and asked how I was feeling. Some told stories and others told jokes. While we were praying one man started singing a song about praising God. It was amazing. I felt close to God afterwards. Knowing that even though they hit a rough patch in their lives, they still looked to God as their Savior. It was an amazing experience and I can't wait to go again.
(Kaitlin O. 8th)

The soup kitchen was a little scary at first...but then I got used to it. Some didn't listen when I told them they could only have one juice. Some of the neighbors were nice while others were cranky. I got used to them getting upset with us. I had a hard time using the can opener because I had never used that kind before. I stayed at the juice station most of the time. It was a pretty good experience. I didn't like missing mass at Holy Name...but I was glad I got to serve God's people instead. I look forward to going again sometime.
(Lucy M. 8th)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Another article about my brother, Bishop-elect Paul Etienne

By now the word is out that my brother, Paul, is the Bishop-elect for Cheyenne, WY. I've had over a week to process the news. I'm still amazed at what our God is calling my brother to do. The other day the 4th graders and I were talking about the rich young man who asked Jesus what he needed to do to enter the kingdom of God. Jesus basically told him he needed to follow the commandments. Feeling quite smug the young man told Jesus that he did there anything else I need to do? I always thought at this point he should have stopped while he was ahead! Jesus then goes on to tell the man he needed to sell all his possessions and come follow him. The rich young man lowered his head and walked away sadly. (We don't really know if the young man did what Jesus told him to do. We just know that it was a hard request to hear.) The parable tells us he had lots of treasures. I share this story with you because I couldn't help but think of my brother, Paul. He doesn't have "many earthly treasures." He does have many friends and family here in Indiana who love him and who will miss him...and whom he loves and will miss as well. Though there may be an element of sadness in Paul's heart to leave behind the people and the parish world he loves so much...his heart is not sadden because he knows he is doing the work of God whom he loves above all else. What a beautiful role model Paul is for me. Sometimes following the call of God is hard and we may be sad at what we are asked to do. Trusting that God knows what is best for us and living a life of prayer makes it easier to answer God's call...knowing full well that in saying, "YES" ultimately we will find joy and happiness. I pray to have his courage and zeal to know, love and serve God so unconditionally. Thank you Paul for saying "YES" to the call of God over and over again!

The following link will take you to a wonderful article Sean Gallagher, from the Criterion, wrote about Bishop-elect Paul.

Bishop-designate Etienne reflects on episcopal appointment

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Students reflect on Adoration Part 4

Adoration is a very peaceful time for me. I can talk to God. I can pray the Rosary. I can feel God right next to me. I can also feel God's grace. (Josie B. 5th)

Adoration is different from mass. There is not a lot of kids or older people at Adoration. The church is filled with incense. The church is very quiet. When we went to Adoration I prayed the Rosary. (Dylan L. 5th)

There was Adoration in the air! It made me feel peaceful. It made me closer to God. I enjoy the smell of incense in the air. The Monstrance looks like the sun. Adoration makes my soul happy! (Nicole F. 5th)

Adoration was very holy to me. It was almost like reconciliation. It let me confess my sins to God. I felt pure of heart. I liked praying the Rosary. I got three decades in. It helped me communicate better with God. (Grant D. 5th)

When I walked into Church, I felt I was in the holiest place. It was like God saying hi to me. I felt I was face to face with God. I said one decade of the Rosary. It was different than mass. (Chris T. 5th)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Fr. Matthias Neuman's Homily for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Oct. 25, 2009

Readings: Jer 31:7-9; Heb 5:1-6; Mark 10:46-52

This homily is the last of my series on the theology of consecrated life in recent Vatican documents. For the great majority of items in these documents that I’ve been exploring, you can honestly say, "We are doing all that." But there are some issues that will challenge and push some communities to sharpen their understanding and practice. We want to look at some of those today. I think it helps if you see all of these points as efforts to apply teachings of the Second Vatican Council to communities of consecrated life. They won’t appear new to us because we have been doing them for over twenty-five years, but they are new to official church teaching about consecrated life.

The first is the theme of the "community charism." Vatican II in its decree, Perfectae Caritatis, instructed all such communities to re-discover the primitive inspiration of the community and its development in history. (#2) The Congregation would like to see that communities have done that. Most Benedictine houses, federations and congregations have been doing that for thirty years. An added piece, however, is making sure that the various components of the community charism are attended to in the formation programs, both initial and ongoing.

That brings us to the second theme, formation programs, and specifically "ongoing formation." Again, this begins from Vatican II’s more historical and developmental view of persons and communities as seen in the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World. The Vatican documents really incorporate some good psychological and sociological information in conjunction with this point. Our ongoing formation program at St. Meinrad really didn’t get started until the mid 1980s. Up until that time what a person got after final vows was pretty meager. The abbot was supposed to give us a spiritual conference two or three times a year, and that was it. In the fifteen plus years that I was in that situation, I only remember one abbot’s conference. Abbot Gabriel Verkamp came in one time and began by quoting chapter 16 of Jeremiah, in which Jeremiah complains about all the "filthy things" going on among the people of Israel. Then the abbot said, "There are filthy things going on in this monastery." All our ears pricked up—something juicy was coming. Then he urged us to conversion, to give up all the "filthy things" that were going on in the monastery. Unfortunately, he never specified what "filthy things" he was referring to. We all left the conference disappointed.

The third theme is "relations with the laity." Before Vatican II a good monk or sister was to basically avoid them. But Vatican II defined a new place for the laity in the Church. They were endowed by God with charisms of their own. (LG ##30-38) These Vatican documents encourage openly many positive interactions between members of consecrated communities and the Catholic laity, and they express this beautifully: "Appropriate contact between the values characteristic of the lay vocation, such as a more concrete perception of the life of the world, of culture, politics, economics, etc., and the values characteristic of religious life, such as the radical following of Christ...can become a fruitful exchange of gifts between the lay faithful and religious communities." They also call us to offer the laity a sharing in the spiritual charism of our community. You have your Oblate program and are in good stead in that regard.

The last theme is "ecumenical relationships." Vatican II was a new beginning in relations with other Christian churches. Communities of consecrated life are called to be a part of that in prayer and activities. In reading all these pages the one passage that jolted me the most was this: "The Synod on Consecrated Life highlighted the close connection between the consecrated life and ecumenism. .... There is an urgent need for consecrated persons to give more space in their lives to ecumenical prayer and genuine evangelical witness. No Institute of Consecrated Life should feel itself dispensed from working for this cause." Again with your Women Touched by Grace program you are in good shape.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Fr. Paul Etienne...Bishop-Elect of Cheyenne, WY

The following is a press release from the Diocese of Cheyenne. The entire Etienne Family wants to thank everyone for your prayers, support and congrats over the last few days. It has been an overwhelming experience. Bishop-elect Paul feels a deep sense of peace and is excited about serving God's people in the Diocese of Cheyenne. My family will be traveling to Cheyenne for this amazing celebration which will be December 9th. Please keep us in your prayers as we promise to do the same for you!

The Most Reverend Paul D. Etienne, is named the new Bishop of the Diocese of Cheyenne.

Cheyenne, Wyoming. October 19, 2009 – The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, today announced the appointment of the Most Reverend Paul D. Etienne as the Eighth Bishop of the Diocese of Cheyenne.

Bishop-elect Etienne will take possession of this Diocese at a special ceremony in early December.

Bishop-elect Etienne, 50, is pastor of St. Paul in Tell City, Indiana and St. Mark in St. Mark. Bishop-elect Etienne was born on June 15, 1959, as the second son to Paul and Kay (Voges) Etienne. Two of Bishop-elect Etienne’s brothers, Bernard and Zachary, are priests for the Diocese of Evansville, Indiana and one of his two sisters, Nicolette, is a Benedictine Sister with Our Lady of Grace Monastery in Beech Grove, Indiana. Another brother, Richard, is married and lives in Newburg, Indiana, and another sister, Angela Kellems, is married and lives in Evansville, Indiana.

He graduated from Tell City High School. Before entering college he was Manager of Siebert’s Clothing Store in Tell City, Indiana. He attended Bellarmine College in Louisville, Kentucky (1983-1984), and graduated from the University of St. Thomas / St. John Vianney College Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. In 1986-1987 he served with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) as Assistant Coordinator for Papal Visits for Pope John Paul II to the United States. From 1988-1992 he attended the North American College in Rome and received a STB (Bachelor of Sacred Theology) at the Pontifical Gregorian University.

Bishop-elect Etienne was ordained a priest on June 27, 1992 for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. His first appointment was as Associate Pastor at St. Barnabas in Indianapolis and Associate Vocation Director for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. From 1994-1995 he attended the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, receiving his STL (License in Spiritual Theology).

Following assignments and appointments:
1995-1998 Vocation Director, Archdiocese of Indianapolis
Pastor, St. Anne, Jennings County; Pastor. St. Joseph, Jennings County
1998-2007 Pastor, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, New Albany, Indiana
2007-2009 Vice-Rector, Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary, Indianapolis
2007-2008 Pastor, St. Simon, Indianapolis
2008-2009 Pastor, St. John the Evangelist, Indianapolis

Other assignments include:
Spiritual Director, St. Meinrad School of Theology
Archdiocesan Review Board
Advisory Board, Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary
Board of Consultors
Council of Priests
Vice-Postulator for the cause of Servant of God, Bishop Simon Bruté

Bishop-elect Etienne will become the Eighth Bishop of the Diocese of Cheyenne, succeeding the Most Reverend David L. Ricken who served the Diocese of Cheyenne from September 2001 to August 2008. Since August, Father Michael Carr of the Diocese of Cheyenne has been the Diocesan Administrator. He will continue in this capacity until the newly appointed Bishop is installed in early December.

Established in 1887, the Diocese of Cheyenne is home to over 53,000 Catholics. It has 36 parishes and 36 missions. There are 52 active priests, 17 retired priests, 22 deacons, and 15 sisters.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Students reflect on Adoration Part 3

Today the Eucharist was displayed in a special holder called a Monstrance. During Adoration we go to church to pray and worship Jesus. Sr. Nicolette took us to church. We brought Rosaries to pray with as a group. It was really holy when we went to church and knelt before the Blessed Sacrament. It was cool going to church with Sr. Nicolette. (Jack S. 5th)

When we went to Adoration I felt peaceful. I felt close to God. I smelled the incense and it felt like God was right next to me. I prayed for my family in the silence. After I said some prayers, I said some Hail Marys and Our Fathers. When we came out of Adoration I felt peaceful. (Katie D. 5th)

I thought Adoration was a very special time because it was very quiet. I prayed to God the entire time. I asked for forgiveness. I got to see Jesus. Nick G. 5th)

I enjoyed Adoration because I got to talk to Jesus alone. I enjoyed talking to Jesus alone because I got to tell him some things. When I was at Adoration I enjoyed praying the Rosary in church. When I was at Adoration I also go to see the Eucharist which is Jesus. Adoration meant a lot to me because it was a very prayerful moment. I think Adoration is a very good time to talk to Jesus alone. (Alexis F. 5th)

Adoration means that hour I love Jesus when He comforts me. Jesus is really there. I love Jesus for dying on the cross for me. For giving me my parents and for protecting my entire family. I love Jesus . (Madilyn B. 5th)

Monday, October 19, 2009

My brother, Fr. Paul, named Bishop of the Cheyenne Diocese

Early this morning I received an email from my brother, Fr. Paul. I think the email is worth sharing with you! Please pray for my brother as he begins this new chapter in his life. My family of course is so very proud of the way Paul continues to choose daily to know, love and serve our magnificent God! He has always been a role model for me and I suspect for many others. Thank you, Paul for having the courage to say yes in all that God calls you to do!

My dear family, as you receive this message, I am in Cheyenne,

Wyoming for an announcement that will change the direction of my
life. On Monday, October 6, I received a phone call from Archbishop
Pietro Sambi, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States informing me
that our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI , had named me Bishop of
Cheyenne , Wyoming. Once I regained the ability to speak, I humbly
accepted the appointment. The official announcement was released
noon Rome time today (Monday) and will be 10:00 AM local time in
Cheyenne. At this time, the ordination/installation is planned for
either December 9th or 11th, 2009 in Cheyenne, though subject to

I am very grateful to our Holy Father for such trust and confidence,
and promised him that I would serve as faithfully as I could. I now
ask for your prayers. I realize this news has numerous
ramifications, and is accompanied by a wave of emotion. I will
return to Tell City on Wednesday this week, and look forward to
being with you for a little while longer until the ordination and
work begins in Cheyenne. I'll gladly answer all your questions upon
my return.

Until then, know of my profound appreciation for your years of love
and support, and know of my prayers and love for all of you!

God bless,
+ Paul

Jesus, Mary and Joseph bless, protect and guide my brother Paul as well as the wonderful people of Cheyenne.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Fr. Matthias Neuman's Homily for the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Oct. 18, 2009

Readings: Is 53:10-11; Heb 4:14-16; Mk 10:35-45

This is the second last of my homilies on recent church teachings on communities of vowed men and women. Above all, I want to make it clear what this upcoming Vatican visitation is all about. There’s been a tremendous amount of misinformation and confusion in the national media and even the Catholic press. First of all, we need to be clear that we are talking about two separate initiatives from the Vatican concerning women’s communities. Let’s call them initiatives A and B. Initiative A began with the intention of Pope John Paul II in the early 1990s to do something to encourage and support communities of vowed men and women in the Church. That officially began with the 1994 World Synod of Bishops considering the role of consecrated life in the Church. After which, following the Synod’s recommendations, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life began issuing instructions for applying the teachings of Vatican II to communities of consecrated life. That’s what I have basically been talking about these last three Sundays. The upcoming visitation of all communities of religious women is for support, encouragement and challenge. That’s initiative A.

Initiative B comes from an entirely different Vatican Congregation (the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) and is directed to a small select group, namely the leadership board of the LCWR. It is a disciplinary visitation, very different from a supportive and encouraging visitation. Five years ago the CDF sent a letter to the leadership board of LCWR instructing them to be more in line with current Vatican teaching in their conferences and policies, especially with regard to issues of the ordination of women and homosexuality. Now, five years later, the CDF has not detected any changes in the LCWR’s positions and policy statements. So, the CDF is coming to talk to them about this matter. That’s initiative B.

It’s very important to keep these two initiatives separate. Just this past week I read two terrible articles in the Catholic press. Both were written by sisters who were very angry at the Vatican for this visitation A. But both authors made a grave mistake. They assumed that initiative A was primarily disciplinary, to bring all the sisters into line with more conservative practices. But these documents from the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life never mention that at all. The purpose of initiative A is to support, encourage and challenge.

Why is the Vatican doing initiative A? Because in the forty plus years since the council ended, there hasn’t been any updating in church documents on communities of consecrated life. These documents are giving formal church approval to the developments that have taken place in communities. That’s why all these things that I’ve been talking about, you can say "We’ve been doing all that"—dialogue, discernment, co-responsibility, ongoing formation, clarifying the community charism, superiors as listeners, and so on. So now the Vatican is saying, "Right. We approve of all that." Because those things have never been formerly approved before in Vatican documents. Now they have been.

Why did the Vatican choose sisters in the United States? They didn’t say. But if I had to make an educated guess I would say it’s because you are the easiest group to do. You are further along in implementing these issues than anyone else. Next week I will look at a number of challenges that these documents do have for communities of consecrated life to sharpen what has begun.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Students reflect on Adoration Part 2

Adoration is the highest form of praise due only to God. To me Adoration is a place to talk to God without distractions. It appeals to all five senses. I feel like every part of me is worshipping God. It gives me a sense of awe in God's presence. I feel all of the days stress and worries slip away...finally finding a sense of peace. (Emily P. 8th)

Adoration is a time for me to relax and talk to God. It is a peaceful time to talk and think. I enjoy Adoration. It brings me closer to God. (Kristen S. 8th)

My time during Adoration was very peaceful. I had time to think about school, my life and problems in my life. I had time to talk with God and tell him about my problems. I also had time to pray for friends, family and other things I wanted to pray about. (Sofia O. 8th)

Adoration is very important because it is the highest form of praise that we can give to God. I like it because I can talk to God. I like to talk to God through Adoration because it is always quiet and reverent. (Kristen N. 8th)

Adoration is the highest form of praise due only to God. Adoration is time in church when you can be closer to God. During Adoration you use all your senses to become closer to God. For example, during Adoration you use your sense of smell when you smell the incense making you focus on God. (Jake F. 8th)

Adoration to me is a very solemn and holy time. It is a time to be calm and quiet while you spend one-on-one time with God. Adoration on Thursday gets the stress from the week released. (Ben #2 8th)

The definition of Adoration is the highest form of praise due only to God. That is true. When I am in Adoration I feel like I have entered a very calm place. It is very peaceful. (Josh C. 8th)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fr. Matthias Neuman's Homily for the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Oct. 11, 2009

Readings: Wis 7:7-11; Heb 4:12-13; Mk 10:17-30

The latest document from the Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life is entitled, "The Service of Authority and Obedience" (2008). I have to admit that there was a time when any statement from the Vatican with either of those words in the title used to immediately create a knot in my stomach. There was a little one when I started to read this document. But about a third of the way through I found myself saying, "This isn’t bad at all." By the time I got halfway, I was saying, "This is really good."

The first major section of the document is a reflection on obedience as listening; listening to the Word of God and the word of the Church is for all Christians. For those in consecrated life listening includes a further listening to the Rule and the charism of the community, to the community itself and to the voice of the superior. In one very insightful section the Instruction notes: "Obedience is the only way human persons, intelligent and free beings, can have the disposition to fulfill themselves." (#5) In other words, obedience is not a deterrent to self-fulfillment, but rather establishes the parameters for self-fulfillment. Obedience is a reminder that no matter what goals we have for ourselves, they are always going to be limited by this finite and fallible world we live in. I may desire with all my might to become a major league baseball player. But if I can’t hit a ninety mile an hour fastball, it’s not going to happen. One of my favorite sayings is from Pope Alexander VI, who tried hard to instill some changes in the early 16th century Catholic Church, but was always thwarted by the mechanism of the Vatican. On his tomb he wanted these words etched: "The efforts of the best individuals remain subject to the age in which they live." Obedience reminds us that there are always parameters in our world.

The document notes that it is also the responsibility of the community’s superiors to listen: to listen to the Church, to the scriptures, to the community charism and to the community members. The second and largest section of the document describes the responsibilities of the community’s superiors and is a virtual handbook on how to be a superior today. I want to give you some of the titles of this section. a) In consecrated life authority is first of all a spiritual authority. b) Persons in authority are called to guarantee the time for and the quality of prayer. c) Persons in authority are called to promote the dignity of the person. d) Persons in authority are called to inspire courage and hope in the midst of difficulties. e) Persons in authority are called to keep the charism of their own religious family alive. The major lens for viewing authority is that it is an authority of service to the community and requires that the superiors have "confidence in the responsibility of the brothers or sisters. (# 14)

The document describes beautifully at length the superior’s responsibility to listen. "The exercise of authority implies that persons in authority should gladly listen to those who have been entrusted to them. Listening is one of the principal ministries of superiors for which they should always be available. Persons in authority will have to be concerned with creating an environment of trust, promoting the recognition of the abilities and sensitivities of individuals, and of creating an atmosphere favorable to dialogue, sharing and co-responsibility." (# 20)

The last section of the document deals with hard cases of obedience, and it deals with them very sensitively. All in all it’s a very worthwhile document and the first section on Obedience as Listening would be excellent for Lectio Divina.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Students reflect on Adoration Part 1

Every Thursday the students have an opportunity to spend time in Adoration. The following are reflections from the students on what Adoration means to them.

Adoration is a special time with Jesus. I LOVE it! It is very peaceful. (Deven L. 8th)

Adoration means a lot to me. Adoration is our alone time with God. I can talk to God about anything because it is between the two of us. Adoration should be important to everyone. (Brianna S. 8th)

Adoration is important because I get time to sort out my problems and think what I have to say to Jesus. I also like that I can think. It brings me closer to God. I know that He is listening so I tell Him how thankful I am and about my problems. I like going to Adoration because it is very good for me. Having my own pew helps me a lot, too. I can concentrate better and I can't look around that much to see what others are doing. (Lucy M. 8th)

Adoration is when I go to church to pray and I see Christ. I like it because I have time to pray for my family and friends. It is so peaceful to go to church during Adoration. It is like being with Jesus all alone. It feels like no one else is there...just Jesus and me! (Nicole D. 8th)

Adoration is very peaceful. I enjoyed sitting by myself because it helped me focus on Jesus. Adoration relaxes me and it helps me get closer to God. (Samantha A. 8th)

Adoration is important to me because I get to spend time with Jesus by myself. When I go to Adoration, I talk to God about my problems and what is going on in my life. I think Adoration is important. (Liam M. 8th)

Adoration to me means thanking God for all He has done. Which in turn will get me closer to God and His kingdom. All of our senses are focused on God in some way. Smell...I can smell the incense, allowing me to concentrate. Hearing...I hear silence, except for God and myself having prayer time together. Taste...smell affects my taste...I can taste the incense. Seeing...I see the Monstrance. Touch...? almost all five! (Jamaica H. 8th)

Adoration means being able to express my emotions fully to God. It means getting to know Him better. Getting to know God's creation and God's plan for me. I also tell God my secrets during Adoration. (Taylor B. 8th)

Adoration today was very calming. I liked that we got to sit in our own pew. I think that brought me closer to God. It is good to take some time during the day and go to church to solemnly pray to God. (J.C. E. 8th)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Fr. Matthias Neuman's Homily for the 27th Week in Ordinary Time

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Oct. 4, 2009

Readings: Gen 2:18-24; Heb 2:9-11; MK 10:2-16

We are continuing our series of homilies on recent teachings of the Church on communities of vowed men and women. Last week we looked at the taking of vows as an act of consecration to follow exactly the life of Jesus as obedient, single and poor. The issue today is: how are these communities to live together? What should be their style of life? In Starting Afresh from Christ, the Congregation on Institutes of Consecrated Life states directly: "The spiritual life must have first place in the program of the families of consecrated life; it should be above all a spirituality of communion suitable for the present time. To make the Church the home and school of communion is the great challenge facing us." (# 28) ) The phrase, spirituality of communion, appears over and over in these Vatican documents. What exactly are they referring to? (Let me say right now that you aren’t going to hear very much new in this phrase; it’s what all of you have been trying to do for years. But it’s good to have this official approval from the Vatican documents.)

This "spirituality of communion" is rooted in the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Church. It is a community where there is unconditional love and respect among the members. It is a community in which everyone seeks to share their own gifts with others in the community. It is a community where members feel that other members are part of themselves. This is especially to be shown in Chapter meetings and other meetings of the community. These meetings should proceed by methods of dialogue and discernment. This requires the active participation of all, and not just a few. These documents are going to be quite challenging for those communities who have retained a pre-Vatican II notion of community where the superior did everything and consulted with practically no one. I remember visiting the monastery in Heidelberg, Germany in 1974, nine years after the Council closed. There was no evidence that the Council ever happened. At community recreation they all sat in a circle of chairs. The abbot introduced the topic of conversation and invited a monk to comment about it. After the monk finished, the abbot corrected what was deficient in the monk’s observations and moved on to the next monk. The entire recreation period passed that way. It’s that style of community that these Vatican documents say "has to go."

To make this "spirituality of communion" work, each individual member has to have the courage to speak his or her views. And for a lot of people raised in the old system, that’s not easy. The Vatican documents know this. So much effort should be devoted to revamping formation programs. If there’s anything that we might find new and striking, it’s the emphasis given to continuing formation in a community. There’s as much attention given to ongoing formation as there is to initial formation. Learning how to dialogue is not easy. Dialogue begins by listening without judging. Way back in the third century the old Egyptian desert monks knew that was one of the hardest things to achieve. Seventeen hundred years later it still is. The Vatican documents note that dialogue and discernment should be the methods of interchange between superiors and community members.

The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life wants to see this spirituality of communion aimed at in all communities. At the World Synod of Bishops in 1994 it was asked that all institutes draw up a ratio institutionis , that is, a formation program inspired by their particular charism, presenting clearly all the steps in the course to be followed to assimilate fully the spirituality of the institute. (This coming Apostolic Visitation has been 15 years in the making.) The spirituality of communion is something to be sought for, and one that you already practice. Keep up the good work.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Feast of the Guardian Angels

My students wrote Haikus on the Guardian Angels. We are grateful God created these spiritual beings to guide and protect us!

Guardian Angel,
Who loves me so protect me,
From death below.
(Ashley K. 8th)

Guardian Angel,
Help me to my God's Kingdom,
I believe in you.
(Tristan M. 8th)
Guardian Angel,
My Angel you are my shield,
My safe protection.
(Ben #1)
My Guardian helps,
He protects me from evil,
I like my angel.
(Deven L. 8th)
Guardian Angel,
You have me no matter what,
Guardian Angel.
(Elizabeth G. 8th)
Guardian Angel,
You protect me from evil,
You lead me to good.
Your turn me to the right path,
You only bring good,
Angel protect me always.
(Kaitlin O. 8th)
He is there for me,
He is never far away,
He makes my day great!
(Lucy M. 8th)
Hello my angel,
My guardian dear to whom,
God's love commits me!
(Nick K. 8th)
This is my angel,
He is my guardian, too,
I love him so much!
(Christian L. 8th)
Guardian Angel,
I love and cherish you,
Please be at my side.
(Kristen N. 8th)
Guardian Angel,
Always near and dear to me,
Keep me safe from harm.
(Emily P. 8th)
My Guardian Man,
Please protect me from danger,
Protect me from sin.
(Liam M. 8th)
Protect me angel,
For when I am in trouble,
I will want you near.
(Kristen S. 8th)
I love my angel,
Keep me safely from all harm,
Never stray from me.
(Sofia O. 8th)
My Guardian Angel,
My protector and my strength,
Always by my side.
(Ben #2 8th)

8th Graders serve at the Cathedral Kitchen

Giving soup and bread isn't all that the rich can do. The poor are your masters, terribly sensitive, exacting as you will see. But the uglier and dirtier they are, the more unjust and bitter, the more you must give them your love. It is only because of your love...only your love...that the poor will forgive you the bread you give them." (St. Vincent DePaul)

As all three of us "Bens" were riding in the car to the soup kitchen, Mrs. Buckley was explaining to us what to expect. I didn't know really what to expect. When we arrived at the soup kitchen Ben #3 and I were assigned to juice duty. Most of the people we served were male African Americans who didn't have jobs. I felt special being able to serve people less fortunate than I. The people had great manners and I always had a smile for them. Many asked how my day was going. Overall, it was a very special experience. (Ben #2)

Working in the soup kitchen was overwhelming. When we arrived we were given a short tour. Then we were given our jobs. The other two Bens handled the juice. I got the job of a runner. I took trays of donuts back to the main room. I saw some of the people we were to serve. Most of the people were male, African American adults. I over heard one of the kind volunteers talk about her car window being smashed out. I wondered how anyone can expect the food and then try to rob one of those who just fed them. Later I cut pies and put them on plates to the main room. I fixed trays of sweets and served them. After I finished serving the sweets I helped dry plates, trays and silverware. Soon it was time to leave. I felt good that I had helped. (Ben #1)

At the soup kitchen I had a good experience. I served juice with Ben #2. We got to see a lot of people. We helped many of the volunteers. It felt good to make the neighbors smile. (Ben #3)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Jesus' October Message

Each month, Anne, a lay apostle, receives a message from Jesus. This is the message for October. To read more about the locutions Anne receives from Jesus and His Blessed Mother click on this link: Direction For Our Times.

My dear children, I am with you. I watch closely as you struggle for holiness. Often, you are uncertain of your spiritual condition. You strive to serve but feel conflicted by the times in which you are serving. There are some things that all humanity deals with regardless of where in history they are placed. First, there will always be a difference between the world’s path and heaven’s path. These two paths, while they can run along side each other for increments, will always separate. Ultimately, each man will have to choose. Every man, to a greater or lesser degree, will have to contend with choosing first good over evil and then he will have to make another choice and that is the choice of choosing My plan for his life over his own plan for his life. After that, the choices become even more studied in that the man must choose My plan in each day, in each task and even in each moment. You may say, dear apostle, that this is a difficult call for a man, to study his actions in each day. You may say, this is asking a lot. You are right. I, Jesus, am asking a lot of you. I ask for your full commitment and I do so without apology. Dearest apostles, if you give me your full commitment, there is no limit to what I can do. Look at your life. You have said yes to me on many days. Examine what I have done with your yes answers. Consider what I am building with the commitments of so many children of God who are willing to be directed by the Saviour, their King. I am building a structure of love. I am building a structure through which many are returning. Truly, your hearts, open and filled with My love, call out to others. You provide for Me a welcome to those who feel separated. If they can be taken into your heart for even a brief moment and experience Me, with My love, then they will have the courage to both approach Me directly and to accept Me directly. Please, do not count the sacrifices when you consider your service. Do not count the loss of worldly respect. Count only the souls who are comforted and consoled. Count the repentance and healing of so many who have been restored to unity with heaven. Count the humility that I have bestowed on you, dear apostle, since you began to learn about true holiness. I am your King. I can give you anything. I choose to give you peace and holiness. I choose to make of you a resolute servant. Accept My will in your life and you will then be able to accept all of the graces heaven has stored up for you.