Thursday, April 29, 2010

Feast of St. Catherine of Siena

Thanks, thanks be to you, Eternal Father! I am imperfect and full of darkness, but you, perfection and light, have shown me to perfection and the way of your Son. I was dead, and you brought me to life.
(St. Catherine of Siena)

In doing a little Internet research I found a few more quotes from St. Catherine worth passing along to you! Enjoy.

"O Eternal God, receive the sacrifice of my life in this Mystical Body of Holy Church. I have naught to give save what Thou hast given me."

-----Prayer of St. Catherine

"It is not the hour to seek one's self for one's self, nor to flee pains in order to possess consolations; nay, it is the hour to lose one's self."

-----Letters of St. Catherine

"I turn me and lean against the most Holy Cross of Christ Crucified, and there I will fasten me."

-----Letters of St. Catherine

"What hast Thou taught me, O Love Uncreated? Thou hast taught me that I should bear patiently like a lamb, not only harsh words, but even blows harsh and hard, and injury and loss."

-----Letters of St. Catherine

"To the servant of God ... every place is the right place, and every time is the right time.

-----Letters of St. Catherine

"I shall give thee such speech and wisdom that no one shall be able to resist. I shall bring thee before Pontiffs and the rulers of the Church."

-----Words of Our Lord to St. Catherine

"I have no other desire in this life save to see the honor of God, your peace, and the reformation of Holy Church, and to see the life of grace in every creature that hath reason in itself."

-----Letters of St. Catherine of Siena

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Vocation Essay by Samantha A., 8th Grade

As Jesus once said “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which one person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” -Matthew 13:44. This passage is telling us to go and seek the buried treasure that God has hidden for us. But we can’t do this on our own. We must have the help of priests, deacons and religious brothers and sisters. They show us the way by lives and their ministry they lead. They invite others to come and see Christ and discover their own vocations.

When do you know that you have discovered your vocation in life? This is not an easy question. Many people have asked themselves this question more than once. You may think you have heard the calling when you’re a small child or you may not hear the calling until you’re an adult. Just remember that God will not abandon you. You most stay patient and he will call you when he believes that you are ready.

To make the right decision on your vocations primarily starts with your faith in Jesus. Your faith grows in silences like a flower in a garden. This is where priests, deacons and religious brothers and sisters come and help us find our vocation. They act as the back bone to our faith. Their life and ministry is what leads us on the right path. They don’t only help you discover your vocation in your life. Their life and ministry also help you become closer with God and stronger in your faith.

Our life here on earth is not to just become famous, rich, or even popular. It is to live out our life as God would want. To go and discover the truth is what God is calling us to do. Thanks to the priests, deacons and religious brothers and sisters, by their life and ministry, they invite us to come and see Christ and discover our own vocation in life.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Fr. Matthias Neuman's Homily for the 4th Sunday of Easter

Readings: Acts 13:43-52; Rev. 7:9-17; Jn 10:27-30

Our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles describes one of the momentous turning points in the history of Christianity: the decision of some followers of Jesus to invite those people who were not of Jewish ancestry into full membership in their group. In the words of Paul and Barnabas: "We now turn to the Gentiles." Of course, at the time this passage from Acts was being written, the Gentile mission had been underway for almost fifty years. The Letters of Paul show that clearly. Those letters also show that by this decision Paul and the other Christian missionaries did not mean to neglect Jews. As Paul tried to show clearly in his letter to the Romans, Jews are justified through their observance of the Law of Moses, while Gentiles are justified through faith in Jesus Christ. God in His infinite mercy has given the grace of justification to both Jew and Gentile. That conviction was ultimately to make Christianity into a world-wide faith.

I would like to pause for a moment and reflect on the dynamics of that decision, which was made by many others besides Paul and Barnabas (See Romans 16). It was an incredible act of religious outreach that shaped (and is still shaping) the course of human history. It also constituted something decisively new in human religious history. That required confidence, boldness and generosity. That Christian outreach was based on their conviction of the boundless mercy of God.

Right now we are living in the midst of another such possible momentous turning point in human religious history. I’m referring to the international meeting of Christianity and Islam. Now I realize that most of you know practically nothing about any of this, and I myself know very little. But it is a topic of massive import for the future of world history and for the future shaping of both faiths. The two faiths are in imminent collision in many areas around the world. The choices are: 1) to move closer in some type of mutual cooperation, or 2) to distance and alienate themselves from each other. In the latter case, open conflict is only a step away—as we can see happening right now in Nigeria, where Christians and Muslims are massacring each other in large numbers. The situation is dire in many areas of our world. Let me read you just a little section: "On both (Christian and Islamic) sides are vast centrifugal forces unleashed by fundamentalist and extremist movements... These far outweigh the centripetal forces set in motion by hundreds of interfaith and intercultural centers all over the world. The fundamentalists are better organized, more experienced, better ordinated and more motivated." (A Common Word: Muslims and Christians on Loving God and Neighbor, p. 6)

At the same time the door is open for an unprecedented step in communication between these two great religions. It all began three years ago with an address that Pope Benedict XVI gave; in that address he made an unfortunate reference to Islam as "evil and inhuman." In response to that address a group of 138 Islamic religious leaders issued a document which may become one of the great religious documents of world history. It is an open invitation to Christian leaders to understand, mutually appreciate and cooperate with Islam as two great religious faiths of the world. It is called "A Common Word" and testifies to the fact that both Christianity and Islam are based on the two commandments: love of God and love of neighbor. If we both can recognize and acknowledge that, then there is so much more that we can cooperate on. Most of all, we can stop vilifying and fighting each other.

Most of us here today are not going to have the opportunity to interact with or dialogue with people of the Muslim faith. But we do have the chance to deal with views of Muslims and opinions about Islam held by our Christian friends and relatives. And that’s where we can make a difference. When we hear people make disparaging remarks about Islam, we can say "Wait a minute. Let’s be a little more careful in our judgments." Then we can truly carry out the task of being peacemakers.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Vocation Essay by Nick K., 8th Grade

How do Priest, Deacons and other Religious Brothers and Sisters listen to the call of God? By knowing, loving and serving God and God’s people. They also pray to God. They don’t pray that they’ll be able to get a new car or a new house, they pray for everyone else but themselves. Religious leaders sacrifice for everyone else. Someone who is a good example of that is my Religion teacher, Sister Nicolette. She is very selfless as she serves God and all of us here at Holy Name. She does all of these things and teaches us to be more Christ-like and teaches us about faith. She sees God in everyone and teaches us how to see that as well. Sister Nicolette, without knowing it, teaches us how to be like her. By listening to the call of God we are also loving and serving God’s people.

What is God calling you to? A lot of people are called to different things. Some people could be called to be a Priest or a Sister. But some people could be called to do a lot of different things. Some are called to be nurses, like my sister Breana. Some are called to be football or baseball players. Others answer their calling to God just by going to Mass every week or just by being a great mom or dad.

As I get older, I’ll figure out what my calling is. But right now, I don’t know. Some people don’t know until they get older. I don’t think God wants you to know what your calling is until you’re older, because He wants you to experience life and the different callings there are. But I know God has a plan for me.

Those who avoid God’s calling don’t always make good decisions. They don’t listen to God when He’s telling them how to love and serve God’s people. Since they ignore God, negative thoughts and images take over and they end up ignoring God. That leads to bad decisions and can impact everyone around them. Some people never hear God’s calling, but sometimes it just takes a long time for people to turn to God and let God help turn their lives around. I know God has a plan for everyone and even if it takes a long time. God will forgive us and help us serve His people because He is forgiving and loves all of His children.

Even though everyone has a calling to God, it’s not always obvious so we have to search within ourselves and listen to our religious leaders for guidance. They can help us find our way to God. Our religious leaders help guide us by setting good examples and making good decisions. They show us compassion and how to care about others and their needs. They also show us how to help ourselves and others find our own calling. Sometimes people find their calling without even realizing it.

I’m a very lucky person to have such great religious leaders around me everyday. I believe this was part of God’s calling for me. When I’m older and I look back on my own religious experiences, I will always remember my religious leaders and how they impacted me and led me to be a better person, son, brother and Catholic. I’m a better person who is learning how to love and serve God’s people.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Fr. Matthias Neuman's Homily for the 3rd Sunday of Easter

Readings: Acts 5:27-41; Rev. 5:11-14; Jn 21:1-14

I’ve always been struck by a couple of the sentences in today’s gospel passage. The first is: "I’m going fishing." And the second is: "Come, have some breakfast." They have always seemed to me to be too ordinary, not dignified enough for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But the more you look at it, the more examples of ordinariness show through the scriptures. That contradicts the assumption a lot of people have that whatever is religious has to be special and exceptional! If something is religious, you put lighted candles around it, burn incense, bow a lot and speak only in hushed tones. "I’m going fishing" and "Come, have some breakfast" just doesn’t fit in that model.

The longer you consider the dynamics in this gospel passage, the more an important conviction emerges: that it is precisely from within the ordinary that the extra-ordinary appears. While fishing, the disciples come to recognize Jesus, and in sharing breakfast they come to recognize the Lord. The extra-ordinary appears in the ordinary. That happens only if you truly appreciate the ordinary. It is in appreciating the ordinary and the everyday that you allow the Mysterious, the extraordinary, to break through.

Jewish mystical spirituality has always recognized this principle in a profound way. A central theme of that spirituality is that "gateways" or entrances to the Holy exist everywhere in this ordinary world. To be truly "spiritual" means to be finely attuned to them. One book that expresses that beautifully is Lawrence Kushner’s Honey from the Rock, one of my all-time favorite spirituality books. Let me read you a few sections: "Entrances to holiness are everywhere. The possibility of ascent is all the time. Even at unlikely times and through unlikely places. There is no place on earth without the Presence. Jacob, our father, was on the run. With only a rock for a pillow. In what he thought was some God-forsaken wilderness. Until he had the dream. He said: ‘Surely the Holy One himself must have been in this place and I didn’t even know it!’ And then he was afraid. He said: ‘How awesome is this place. This is none other than God’s house and here I am at the very gateway to heaven.’ In another place we read of how the Holy One chose a common insignificant thorn bush. As if to teach us that nothing is beneath being a gateway to the Most High. He could have summoned mountains or oceans or the heavens themselves. But instead he opened a thorn bush. ‘Moses looked and behold the bush was on fire but the bush was not consumed.’ In a wilderness. Through a bush. Nothing is beneath the dignity of being selected as an entrance. ‘Remove your shoes from your feet for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.’" (pp. 48-49) Indeed, entrances to holiness are everywhere.

The Second Vatican Council expressed similar views in many of its documents. In its Constitution on the Church it mentions the many gifts of the Holy Spirit bestowed on all believers in the Church. "Some of these charisms are very remarkable; others are more simple and ordinary. But they are all fitting and useful for building up the Church." (#12) In the section on the Universal Call to Holiness the Constitution notes that this call to holiness stretches all the way to those who are weighed down by poverty, infirmity and sickness. (#41) Even there God’s Spirit is working in these most weighted of human conditions. "Entrances to holiness are everywhere." An essential part of a good Christian spirituality is appreciating the ordinary, so that we allow the extra-ordinary, the Mysterious, the Presence of God to emerge from within.

In this Sunday Eucharist let’s pray that this very day we might be able to perceive the extraordinary in the ordinary, to see holiness in the midst of ordinary life. It happens today.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Vocation Essay by Kaitlin O., 8th Grade

How do priest, deacons and religious brothers and sisters by their life and ministry invite others to come and see Christ and discover their own vocations?

Anyone can help us hear God’s call…But, people who have totally devoted their lives to God encourage me to live my life more holy. They show that they only need God in their life, and that they know that he is always watching over them. They are the ones who inspire me to love God and devote my life to Him.

Everyone is important to the church, but without priest we wouldn’t be able to receive our daily body of Christ. Priests give everything they have to God, they teach people that you don’t need anything else in life but to know, love and serve God and his people.

It is also good to follow in the footsteps of religious women. Nuns aren’t allowed to lead the liturgy but they teach us that God has given us everything we have like family and friends, and most of all how His son, Jesus, died for us so we could live our life following His footsteps.
I think many people spend their entire life trying to find that one special gift that God has given them. We just have to pray every day hoping that we find it. He is calling everyone in a different way, but we also have to work to find what God is calling us to do.

Priest, deacons and religious brothers and sisters have helped me realize that God is the most important person in my life. They have inspired me to fully devote my life to God and to hear His call to me. But the truth is anyone can help us hear God’s call. But we have to do a little searching ourselves.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Spring at the Monastery

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Divine Mercy Sunday

Today I had the opportunity to attend a Divine Mercy celebration at St. Michael's Catholic Church in Indianapolis. What a powerful prayer experience! The presider was Msgr. Joseph F. Schaedel the vicar general of the Archdiocese. The service included Adoration, Divine Mercy Chaplet, a sermon on the Divine Mercy, a solemn procession of the Blessed Sacrament, St. Faustina's praises of the Divine Mercy, Prayers of Entrustment to Divine Mercy by Servant of God, John Paul II and a closing Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. I was blessed to celebrate with good friends and many faithful followers.

You can find a plethora of information on St. Faustina as well as prayers and devotions to the Divine Mercy on the Internet. I've included the Divine Mercy Chaplet in this post. May God continue to bless us with His Divine Mercy, and may we in turn show mercy to all those in need.

Using a Rosary pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet as follows:

1. Begin with the Sign of the Cross, 1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary and The Apostles Creed.

2. Then on the Our Father Beads say the following:
Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

3. On the 10 Hail Mary Beads say the following:
For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

(Repeat step 2 and 3 for all five decades).

4. Conclude with (three times):
Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

Fr. Matthias Neuman's Homily for the 2nd Week of Easter

Readings: Acts 5:12-16; Rev 1:9-19; John 20:19-31

When we listen to these readings this second Sunday of Easter, we have to be amazed at the remarkable reversal from the Holy Week readings. There for an entire week, except for that moment of special intimacy at the Last Supper, everything was hostility and conflict, anger and rage, passion and sorrow, betrayal, crucifixion and death. Then we come to all the readings of this past Easter week and they just bubble with joy, enthusiasm, hope, happiness and peace. The change, of course, comes because of the Resurrection of Jesus and its reversal of almost everything.

Without doubt the followers of Jesus underwent a tremendous, life-changing experience that completely transformed the fear and despair that followed Jesus’ capture, crucifixion and death. And it was not just the ones who said they saw or "experienced" the Risen Jesus, but those were able to convince others of the same thing as well—that Jesus is risen and this gives a whole new meaning to human life and a whole new relationship with God. Perhaps the most amazing aspect about early Christianity is how quickly it spread throughout the Roman Empire, basically its whole extent in about seventy years. And all this was accomplished by word of mouth. Those early Christians were "on fire," and they gathered many other believers by the power of their convictions and their way of life. This new Christian message held both a promise of eternal life, but also a very practical, loving way of life here and now. Sometimes that last was just as important as the promise of eternal life.

The Christian church in the 2000 years since then has gone through many evolutions and changes from those first little groups of believers who gathered in private homes "to hear the teaching of the apostles" and partake in the "breaking of the bread." In 2010 we live now in a world-wide, incredibly complex institution that is the "Roman Catholic Church." The very breadth of its institutional parts is mind-blowing to anyone who sets about to study them. (You just have to look at the Annuario Pontificio) The complexity of its historical beliefs defies the efforts of any single individual to master them. Sometimes just the size itself of the church overwhelms believers. As a two-millenia old institution it carries not only its basic faith and its many institutional appendages, but also a lot of its personal and institutional failures, as we are all too well aware of in these days. Today we have to live with something that those early Christians did not—the accumulated sins and offenses of believers. Those are trumpeted in the news media almost everyday.

The announcement of the Resurrection and the celebration of the feast is therefore a call for each of us to purify our own living and practice of our Christian faith. It reminds us to make sure that our own faith is rich and vibrant. The Church has a lot of institutional baggage; some of it is needed to carry on the basic message; a lot of it isn’t. It’s very easy to get caught up in endless argument about the baggage. The Easter season is a call to return to a living faith that burns in our hearts. That means going back to the essentials—the essentials we heard in today’s gospel passage: peace, the gift of the Spirit and forgiveness.

It seems there are times when we have to go through some of the "fear and despair" that the disciples of Jesus did. We can get awfully discouraged at times by things that happen in the Church and under the guise of religion. (Consider NBC’s series, "Twisted Faith") It is comforting to go back to Jesus’ wish and offer of Peace for his disciples. He repeated it a second time: "Peace be with you." Peace is Jesus’ gift to us, but we have to open our hearts to receive it. We do so by allowing the Spirit to work in and through us—through mercy, service and forgiveness. Then we shall know the peace of Jesus. We should always remember that in the midst of this incredibly convoluted religious situation of the world today, Christ’s first gift to us is Peace. "He said to them again: ‘Peace be with you.’"

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Vocation Essay by Taylor O'Neil, 7th Grade

Priests, deacons, religious brothers, and sisters are very important. Everyday these people build God's Kingdom. They teach us God’s ways. God created us and this Earth because He has never ending love for us; God will always be with us even when we think we're alone. To me it’s very important because by them teaching us we grow closer to God and closer to living an Eternal life with Him in Heaven.

Priests are very good people to learn about God. Priests introduce God to his people and his people to God. A great way to learn about God is going to Mass and listening to the priest preach about God. Everyday priests set wonderful examples that make us closer to God. They dress appropriate, do not engage in sexual intercourse, do not do crime, or anything else unholy. Most of us would like to follow their example and do nothing unholy.

Deacons cannot do as much as a priest can, but, they help spread the word of God. Deacons serve in many ministries. Deacons do not get paid for their ministry to the church; they do this out of their love of God and for the Church.

Religious Brothers are not priests and cannot do as much as a priest can either, but they can make us closer to God and His Kingdom. Religious Sisters also cannot become priests because of their gender, but they still help out with building God's Kingdom. Brothers and sisters preach the word of God and guide us in our lives. How they can preach to God's people is by helping out in organizations or getting jobs as religion teachers.

God gave us free will to make our own choices. It is our choice to choose the right path: Will you choose to follow God or live without Him? We must take him into our hearts and love him endlessly and with the help of the Priests, Deacons, and Religious Brothers and Sisters, they can help us.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Homily by Fr. Matthias Neuman, OSB

This Easter Sunday we celebrate with great splendor the Resurrection of Jesus. After his ignominious and cruel crucifixion and death, God the Father raised (transformed) him to a new and glorified life with God. Indeed in that very action Jesus was clearly shown to be the Son of God who has redeemed us. Such is the ancient creed of the Christian faith.

But a further question then intrudes into the mix: what is the exact practical significance of this action of Jesus’ Resurrection for us, for those who believe in him? That seems to be shown in "the human image of Jesus" that is revered by his many followers; in other words how we see Jesus in his human life tells us a great deal about what we believe the significance of the Resurrection to be. Here the situation becomes very complicated. For, as religious historian Jeff Sharlett tells us, "There are many different (Jesus) Christs believed in by Americans. There’s a Jesus in Miami’s Cuban churches who seems to do nothing but wrestle Castro; a Jesus in Heartland, Kansas, who dances around a fire with witches who also consider themselves Christians; a Jesus in Manhattan who dresses in drag; a baby Jesus in New Mexico who pulls cow tails and heals the lame by giving them dirt to eat; a muscle-bound Jesus in South Central L.A. emblazoned across the chest of a man with a gun in his hand; a Jesus in an Orlando megachurch who wants you to own a black Beamer (BMW)." (The Family, p. 5) So, the question for us is this: what is our (my) image of Jesus in his human life and what does that say about the significance of his Resurrection to me? It’s a very alive question!

There is an official answer of the Catholic Church to that question about the significance of the Resurrection; it’s a two-fold answer. The first and long-range part of the answer is that in the Resurrection Jesus won for us the promise of an everlasting life with God. Jesus won for us the promise of an eternal happiness. That hope is expressed so clearly in many of the New Testament writings. The reading from the Letter to Colossians that we just heard states: "When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with Him in glory." My own favorite is: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it ever entered into the human heart what God has prepared for those who love Him." (1 Cor 2:9) The Resurrection is for us a promise of a life with God forever. But there’s a second and more immediate dimension of its significance: the Resurrection of Jesus shows us the way to that long-distant hope—what we must do here and now, attitudes and relationships with each other that point us toward that great hope. St. Paul reminded us of that in describing the Spirit that Jesus poured out on us in the Resurrection: "Live by the Spirit.... The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." (Gal 5:16, 22-23 ) All of that is the practical day-to-day significance of the Resurrection in our lives.

Having said all that, I would hasten to add that none of us ever lives exactly the Church’s belief. It’s something we are always struggling toward. That’s because the message of faith always gets embedded into our concrete human situations, the lives we are born into and subsequently live. Faith is but one factor in the mix, and it’s a factor that we often distort. That’s how we can get a Jesus who wrestles with Castro or a muscle-bound Jesus with a gun. The meaning of Jesus’ Resurrection is always, always a goal we are struggling toward, always trying to purify its meaning for us.

Ultimately there are two issues to consider this Easter Sunday. First, what is my image of the human life of Jesus? That tells me something of what I believe to be the practical, day-to-day result of the Resurrection. Second, we are to remember and reaffirm the great hope of this feast: that "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it ever entered into the human heart what God has prepared for those who love Him." (1 Cor 2:9) Jesus is risen! Alleluia!!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Jesus' April Message

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

My dear apostles, I am with you. I am present in every challenge you experience. I see your struggle and I provide everything you need to serve Me in each day. If you have given Me your day, then the day belongs to Me. Your self-will has been offered to heaven and heaven exchanges it for My will. How do you experience this? On most days your experience of serving Me is a mystery to you. How could it be otherwise when you are seeing with eyes that have not yet been exposed to the divine vision? Day after day, you offer your will to Me and day after day, I use your offering to gently push Myself through you to others. Do you feel successful? Or do you feel, at times, that you are unsuccessful? Poor little apostles, I understand your questions and I understand your doubts. I assure you, in My human experience, I did not feel successful at every moment. My experience was often much to the contrary. I often experienced the temptation to believe that I was failing the Father. I sometimes, in moments of human temptation, wondered if, in fact, love was enough. Could love succeed in turning hearts to goodness? Could love succeed in persuading God’s children to accept the Father’s beautiful plan for humanity? Yes, please believe that I suffered temptation. And now, you suffer temptation. Together, our temptations suffered for the Father, bring soothing graces to others. You, My beautiful apostle, serve despite temptations to abandon Me. Where others leave, you endure. You endure for Me, as I endured for you. From My perspective, all is well, despite your suffering. My plan is perfect and if you are serving Me, listening to My voice, there are no problems. If you are not serving Me and you are not listening to My voice, then there are many problems for you and there will continue to be many problems for you. ‘Ah’, you say, ‘Jesus, I am listening to you and still I have these problems’. We must differentiate small problems from big problems. Small problems are the sufferings you bear for the sake of the divine will. Big problems are the problems you face when you abandon My will and insert your own will. Are you praying? Are you in steady communication with Me? Do you ask Me what I want you to do in situations where you are unsure? Do you spend time in silence, considering heaven and heaven’s plan for you in the day? Answer yes to these questions and I assure you, your problems will be manageable. Do not believe I ignore your sighs or turn away from your fears. I am with you. I will never abandon you. My plan will be realised through your perseverance and through the perseverance of many apostles like you. I am so pleased when you pray for each other because this is how you experience, in advance, My gratitude. You see My gratitude in the graces received by others through your intercession. Rejoice. I am responding to your pain and answering your prayers. Truly, I am with you.