armaghpriest
by armaghpriest.com on July 5th, 2019

7th July: 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

For an increase in labourers to the Lord of the Harvest in response to our prayers for vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and the consecrated life, and for the holiness of all those now serving the people of our diocese in these vocations…

14th July: 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time
That all those now discerning their vocation will be attentive in prayer and active in their response to Jesus the Eternal Word who calls them…

21st July: 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time
That like Mary of Bethany, all priests, deacons and brothers and sisters will listen to the Lord in prayer, faithful to their choice of vocation…

28th July: 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
That the Holy Spirit will give inspiration and guidance to all those discerning their vocation in Christ…


by armaghpriest.com on June 13th, 2019

Audience with the participants in the Congress of National Centres for Vocations of the Churches of Europe, 06.06.2019

At midday today, in the Consistory Hall, Pope Francis received in audience the participants in the Congress of National Centres for Vocations of the Churches of Europe, taking place in Rome from 4 to 7 June in the Casa San Juan de Avila.

After handing to those present the address prepared for the occasion, the Pope addressed some extemporaneous remarks to the participants in the meeting.

The following are the Holy Father’s address prepared for the event and handed to those present, and his impromptu address:

 

Prepared address of the Holy Father

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I greet all of you taking part in this Congress intended to help implement the Synod of Bishops devoted to young people. I thank you for the work you are doing in your respective areas of service, and for your effort to meet and share your experiences. For my part, I would like to point out a few approaches particularly close to my heart. In my Apostolic Exhortation Christus Vivit, I encouraged young people to “grow in holiness and in commitment to their personal vocation” (No. 3). I likewise encourage you, who work in the so-called “old continent”, to believe that “everything Christ touches becomes young, new and full of life” (cf. ibid., 1).

The three approaches that I would indicate are: holiness, as a calling that gives meaning to one’s entire life journey; communion as the fertile soil for vocations in the Church and vocation itself, as a keyword to be preserved and “conjugated” with others – “happiness”, “freedom” and “together” – and finally “declined” as special consecration.

Holiness

Talking about vocation always leads to thinking of young people, since “youth is the privileged season for life choices and for responding to God’s call” (Final Document of the Synod of Bishops on Young People, 140). True as this is, we must not forget that vocation is a life-long journey (cf. Christus Vivit, 281). Certainly it has to do with the years of youth in terms of the overall direction we choose to take in response to God’s invitation, but it also has to do with the years of adulthood in terms of its fruitfulness and our discernment of how best to do good (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 287). Our life is meant to bear fruit in charity (cf. Mt 25:15), and this entails the call to holiness that the Lord addresses to everyone, each in his or her own way (cf. Gaudete et Exsultate, 10-11). Very often we have tended to look upon vocation as a personal adventure, thinking that it is only about “me” and not, above all, about “us”. The fact is that “no one is saved alone”; rather, we become saints together (cf. ibid., 6). The life of each is bound up in the life of others (cf. Gen 44:30), and we need to cultivate holiness that belongs to us as a people.

Communion


Pastoral care has to be synodal; it should involve a “journeying together” (cf. Christus Vivit, 206). Synodality is the daughter of communion (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 87). It is about living ever more fully our filiation and fraternity, fostering mutual respect, valuing the richness of each individual and believing that the Risen Lord can also work wonders through the pain and frailty that are part of everyone’s life. The Church’s communion will give rise to new vocations. Often in our communities, families and presbyterates, we have thought and acted according to worldly mentalities that have caused division and separation. That is part of today’s culture, and the tormented political history of Europe can serve as a warning and an incentive. Only by acknowledging ourselves truly as communities that are open, alive and inclusive, will we be prepared to face the future. This in fact is what young people are thirsting for.

Vocation

The word “vocation” is not outmoded. We used it again at every phase of the most recent Synod. But it has to be seen in the context of the entire people of God, our preaching and catechesis, and above all our personal encounters with others, for these are the first step in our proclamation of the Gospel (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 128). I know of some communities that have decided to stop using the word “vocation” in their work with the young, because they think that young people get scared by it and may be reluctant to join in their activities. But this is a strategy doomed to failure: striking the word “vocation” from the lexicon of faith is to disfigure that word and to run the risk, sooner or later, of our no longer being understood. What we need are men and women, laity and consecrated people who are passionate, set afire by their encounter with God, redeemed in their humanity, and capable of proclaiming in their lives the happiness born of their vocation.

Happiness

Happiness – our being signs of joy – is not something that can be taken for granted. Indeed, it is a burning issue nowadays, when the “goddess of lament” has so many followers and people content themselves with fleeting joys. Real happiness is something far more profound; it remains long after the joy or the enthusiasm of the moment vanish, even during times of hardship, sorrow, discouragement and disappointment. Happiness remains because it is Jesus himself, whose friendship always endures (cf. Christus Vivit, 154). As Pope Benedict said: “Ultimately we want only one thing – ‘the blessed life’ – the life that is simply life, simply ‘happiness’” (Spe Salvi, 11). Some approaches to youth and vocations ministry confuse the happiness that is Jesus with a purely emotional joy, and speak of vocation as full of light and beauty. This is not healthy, for as soon as one comes into contact with the suffering flesh of humanity – one’s own or that of others – that kind of joy fades. Others suggest that discerning one’s vocation or making progress in the spiritual life is a matter of techniques, of detailed exercises or rules to be followed. Life that God offers us is “an invitation to be part of a love story interwoven with our personal stories” (Christus Vivit, 252).

Freedom

It is true that the word “vocation” can frighten young people, because it has often been confused with something that takes away our freedom. God, however, fully respects the freedom of each person (cf. ibid., 113). We need to remember this, especially when our personal or communal methods of accompaniment can lead to forms of dependence or, worse, of domineering. This is quite serious because it hinders young people from maturing in freedom; it keeps them in a kind of infantile state. Vocations are discerned starting with reality, pondering the word of God, one’s own life history and the dreams that can lead to decisions. Then, at a certain point, we come to realize that our own deepest desires coincide with what it is that God wants of us. From our amazement at this, our freedom is drawn to a magnificent decision of love, while our will expands to collect and channel in a single direction all our vital energy.

Together


A vocation – as I have said – is never just “mine”. “True dreams are dreams about ‘us’” (Vigil with Italian Young People, 11 August 2018). No one can make a life decision alone; vocation is always for, and with, others. I think that we should reflect more on these “dreams about us”, because they have to do with the vocation of our communities of consecrated life, our presbyterates, our parishes and our ecclesial groups. The Lord never calls us simply as individuals, but always within a community, to share his loving plan, which is plural from the outset because he himself is plural, a Trinity of love. I find it very helpful to think of vocation from this point of view. Especially because it provides a shared missionary outlook, and then because it revives our awareness that, in the Church, nothing is accomplished alone. We are part of a long history directed to the goal of participation by all. Pastoral care for vocations must not be the task merely of a few leaders, but of the entire community: “every form of pastoral care, formation and spirituality should be seen in the light of our Christian vocation” (Christus Vivit, 254).

Vocations to special consecration

“If we are indeed convinced that the Holy Spirit continues to inspire vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life, we can ‘once more cast out the nets’ in the Lord’s name, with complete confidence” (ibid., 274). I would like to reaffirm this certainty of mine by encouraging you to commit even more energy and resources to beginning processes and creating greater spaces for experiences of fraternity that attract (cf. ibid., 38) precisely because they are born of the Gospel.

I think of all those communities of consecrated life that form a great network of charitable works and of mission. I think of the monastic life, in which the roots of Europe are planted; it continues to attract many vocations, particularly among women, and it needs to be preserved, cultivated and helped to express its true identity as a school of prayer and fellowship. I think too of parishes, working on the ground and filled with evangelical potential for our time. And I think of the whole-hearted commitment of countless priests, deacons, consecrated men and women, and bishops “who daily devote themselves with integrity and dedication to the service of the young. Their efforts are like a great forest that quietly grows” (ibid., 99).

Do not be afraid to take up the challenge of continuing to proclaim the vocation to consecrated life and to ordained ministry. The Church needs this! And when young people encounter consecrated men and women who are credible, not because they are perfect but because their lives have been changed by an encounter with the Lord, they will have a taste of a different kind of life, and raise the question of their personal vocation. “The Church draws the attention of young people by being rooted in Jesus Christ. Christ is the truth that makes the Church different from any other world group with which we may identify” (Pre-Synodal Document on Youth, 11).

Today life everywhere is fragmented and at times wounded; the life of the Church is no less so. Being rooted in Christ is the surest way to let him restore our wholeness. The work of accompanying and forming vocations is a way of sharing in the handiwork of Christ, who came to bring good news to the poor, to bind the wounds of broken hearts, to proclaim freedom to those in bondage and sight to the blind (cf. Lk 4:18). Take heart, then! Christ wants us to be alive!
 

Impromptu address of the Holy Father

Thank you for this visit, thank you to the Cardinal for his words.

I have prepared a reflection, here, which I will hand to the cardinal, and if I may I will speak a little of what comes to my heart.

When one speaks of vocations, many things come to mind, many things to say, that one might think or do, apostolic plans or proposals… But I would like, first of all, to clarify something. that work for vocations, with vocations, must not be, is not proselytism. It is not a question of “looking for new members for the club”. No. It must move along the line of growth that Benedict XVI so clearly said: the growth of the Church is by attraction, not by proselytism. Like so. He said it to us [Latin American bishops] too, at Aparecida. It is not about trying to find people, like those nuns that went to the Philippines in the years ’90, ’91, ’92. They had no houses in the Philippines, but they went there and they took the girls there. And I remember that in the Synod of ’94 it came out in the newspaper: “Trafficking in novices”. The Filipino Episcopal Conference said, “No. First of all, no-one comes here to fish for vocations, it is not good2. And the nuns who had the house in the Philippines, may they carry out the first part of formation in the Philippines. In this way that deformation is avoided. I wished to clarify this, because the spirit of proselytism is harmful.

Then, I think – as far as vocations are concerned – of the capacity of the people they help. To help a young man or woman choose the vocation of his or her life, as a layperson, as a priest, religious, is helping to ensure that they find the dialogue with the Lord. That they learn to ask the Lord, “What do you want of me?”. This is important, it is not an intellectual conviction, no: the decision for a vocation must be born of the dialogue with the Lord, whatever that vocation may be. The Lord inspires me to go ahead in life in this way, on this road. And this means a good task for you: helping dialogue. It is clear that if you do not engage in dialogue with the Lord, it will be rather difficult to teach others to dialogue on this point. Dialogue with the Lord.

Then, attitudes. Working with the young takes a lot of patience, a lot! A great capacity for listening, because at times the young repeat themselves, they repeat themselves. Patience and capacity for listening. And then, rejuvenation, that is, putting oneself in motion, in movement with them. Today the work with the young, in general, whatever type, is done in movement. When I was young, work with the young was carried out in reflection groups. We met, we reflected on one theme, on another, each person studied the theme first… And we were satisfied, and we carried out some works of mercy, visits to hospitals, to rest homes. But it was more sedentary. Today the young are on the move, and one must work with them in movement, and seek in movement to help them find the vocation of their life. This is tiring… One must tire oneself out! One cannot work for vocations without tiring. It is what life, reality, the Lord, and everyone ask of us.

Then another thing: the language of the Lord. Today I was in a meeting with the COMECE Commission. The president made a comment, he said to me: “I went to Thailand with a group of 30, 40 young people to work on rebuilding in the north, to help those people”. “And you, why do you do this?” I asked. And he said to me: “To understand well the language of the young”. At times we talk to young people as we are used to talking to adults. For them, very often our language is “Esperanto”, it is just as if we were to speak Esperanto, as they do not understand anything. Understanding their language, which is a language poor in communion, because they know a lot about contact but they do not communicate. Teaching them that information technology is good, yes, to have some contacts, but this is not language: this is a “gaseous” language. The true language is communicating. Communicating, speaking. And this is a task like working with filigree, like lace-making, as they say here. It is a task to be carried out step by step. And we need also to understand what it means for a young person always to live “in connection”, where the capacity to be “collected in oneself” has gone: this is a task for the young. It is not easy, it is not easy, but one cannot go with preconceived ideas or with a purely doctrinal imposition, in the good sense of the word. “You must do this”. No. It is necessary to accompany, to guide, and to help so that the encounter with the Lord makes them see what the path of life is. The young are diverse, they are diverse in all places, but they are the same in their restlessness, their thirst for greatness, their desire to do good. They are all the same. There is diversity and there is equality.

Perhaps [it may be useful to you], what it came to me to say, instead of reading the address, which you will have to reflect upon. Thank you for your work! Do not lose hope, and go ahead with joy.



(Source: http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2019/06/06/190606e.html#; accessed June 13, 2019)

by armaghpriest.com on June 3rd, 2019

Gabriel, one of our seminarians, offers some advice for someone thinking about priesthood.

by armaghpriest.com on June 2nd, 2019

2nd June: The Ascension of the Lord
That Christ, from his seat in heaven, will bless and guide all those being called to serve Him as priests, deacons, sisters and brothers…

9th June: Pentecost Sunday
That those now discerning their vocations will be guided by the Holy Spirit to respond to the Lord’s call with generous hearts…

16th June: The Most Holy Trinity

That those being chosen to share the mercy of God as priests, deacons, sisters and brothers will be faithful to the Spirit of Truth who has called them and guides them…

23rd June: The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi)
That the Body and Blood of Christ will strengthen those being called to the priesthood, diaconate or consecrated life to persevere in their vocations and respond with confidence and joy…

30th June: Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
That men and women being called to proclaim the kingdom of God as priests, deacons and in the consecrated life, will be given the strength to overcome every obstacle to their response through prayer and the practice of virtue…


by armaghpriest.com on May 20th, 2019

(By Fr. Bill Peckman)

For many years, I have been saying that if a man wouldn’t make a good husband and dad, he won’t be a good priest either.

I think the current scandals in the Church scream that loud and clear.

A good husband is totally faithful to his wife.
A good priest is totally faithful to the Church.

A good husband teaches his children how to totally love their mother.
A good priest teaches his flock how to totally love Christ and His Church.

A good husband leads his wife closer to God.
A good priest leads his flock closer to God.

A good husband looks selflessly to the good of his wife.
A good priest looks selflessly to the good of his flock.

A good husband doesn’t put his career, ambitions, and personal comfort before his wife and children.
A good priest doesn’t put his career, ambitions, and personal comfort before his flock.

A good husband and dad doesn’t even entertain, let alone, act on exacting vengeance or preying upon his wife and children.
A good priest doesn’t even entertain, let alone, act on exacting vengeance or preying upon his flock.

A good husband and dad is noble, heroic, strong, protective, and selfless with his wife and children.
A good priest is noble, heroic, strong, protective, and selfless with his flock.

My brothers…whether we are married or ordained, we set the model of what being this kind of man is.

If we want our sons or the young men of our parishes to grow be good husbands and dads or priests, we better get busy being these men who are good husbands and dads or priests.

The future hinges on it.


(Article and image from https://churchpop.com/2018/12/10/if-a-man-wouldnt-make-a-good-husband-dad-he-wont-be-a-good-priest-either/?fbclid=IwAR07K2ssWiNtqFcB2OFi81VDvCkHJVPTALxJyMf2xJ_BBG2rPef2WMk_dKE)

by armaghpriest.com on May 12th, 2019


Pastoral Message of Archbishop Eamon Martin
-Annual Day of Prayer for Vocations-
Sunday, 12 May 2019 – Fourth Sunday of Easter

Pope Francis likes to remind young people that they are not just the future of the world and the Church, but they are very much its present - “You are the ‘now’ of God!” he tells them in his apostolic exhortation published in April, Christus Vivit (Christ is Alive).

It is beautiful to look at a young person today and see in them already the qualities of a future father, mother, husband, wife, priest or consecrated person.

The Gospel Acclamation for today, the Day of Prayer for Vocations, reminds us that Jesus is the Good Shepherd: “I am the good shepherd, says the Lord; I know my own sheep and my own know me (Jn. 10:14)”.

The Lord Jesus, the Good Shepherd, knows our young people personally. He knows their strengths and weaknesses their joys and their fears, their worries and their hopes and dreams. He continues to call them to serve Him in many ways. Sometimes it is difficult for them to hear the Lord’s call among so many other competing voices.

The Lord has not stopped calling some young people to serve Him in the priesthood – in fact, as Pope Francis writes, “he doubles the stakes, for he never ceases to care for his beloved church” (CV275).

For many years the families and parishes of Ireland provided large numbers of priests for both home and for the missions overseas. We are blessed in the Archdiocese of Armagh to have twenty-one young men preparing in Dundalk, Maynooth and Rome to serve as priests in our diocese. Most of these are coming to us from abroad. However I am still very keen to encourage and nurture vocations to the priesthood from among our own young people, many of whom have strong faith and great gifts to offer our Church. How might this be done?

In Christus Vivit, Pope Francis cautions against “pre-packaged answers and ready-made solutions” without appreciating the emergence of “new sensitivities and…new questions” (CV65).

In that spirit, I am inviting all people in the diocese to prayerfully reflect in the coming weeks on two questions that will help us plan for more vocations to the priesthood in our diocese:

1. What is the most important role that the priests of tomorrow will play in our diocese?
2. What qualities will the priests of tomorrow need to have for our diocese?

Please consider these questions - at home around the kitchen table, or in school, or out with friends, or during your coffee and lunch breaks at work. Share your thoughts with me and with our Diocesan Vocations Commission. You can send your responses via email to armaghpriest@gmail.com or via post to Diocesan Vocations Commission, Ara Coeli, Cathedral Road, Armagh BT61 7QY. Responses can be returned by June 30th 2019.

All of us share in the responsibility of nurturing future vocations, and of supporting our young people to “discern pathways where others only see walls, to recognise potential where others only see peril” (CV67).

Thank you for considering this message and please pray with me for vocations to the priesthood and the religious life, and to generous Christian service in marriage and the single life:

O Jesus, send labourers into your fields which are awaiting holy apostles, saintly priests, heroic missionaries and dedicated sisters and brothers.
Enkindle in the hearts of men and women the spark of a vocation.
Grant that Christian families may desire to give your Church helpers in the work of tomorrow.
(Prayer for Vocations, St. Joseph Young Priests’ Society)



by armaghpriest.com on May 6th, 2019


by armaghpriest.com on May 5th, 2019

Via Vianney Vocations, here's a wonderful worksheet to help children pray for (and think about!) their vocation in life.

https://tinyurl.com/y4h3gayu

You'll find more resources like this here: http://www.armaghpriest.com/pray.htm

by armaghpriest.com on May 4th, 2019


by armaghpriest.com on April 28th, 2019

Bartek, one of our seminarians, reflects on if he's throwing his life away by becoming a priest.

by armaghpriest.com on April 23rd, 2019

My dear brothers and sisters, the traditional greeting to a priest on his ordination day or on a special anniversary is “Ad multos annos” - “To many years” of priestly service.  Allow me to wish “Ad multos annos” to all our priests who have gathered to renew their priestly promises and to consecrate with me the Oil of Chrism. We do so on (the eve of) Holy Thursday - the day which marks the gift of the priesthood and the institution of the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.
 
Those of you who have marked special anniversaries of priesthood, religious profession or marriage, know and understand what such a commitment means; you have given great witness to the values of fidelity, self-sacrifice and of course, love - because love is at the heart of it all. In a few moments I will ask the priests:
 
“Are you resolved to be more united with the Lord Jesus and more closely conformed to Him... confirming those promises (...) which, prompted by love of Him, you willingly pledged on the day of your priestly ordination?”
 
“Prompted by love of Him” - Saint John Vianney described priesthood as “the love of the heart of Jesus”. It is love of Jesus that sustains our priestly commitment - our priestly life is a “love affair with the Lord Jesus”! And the same is true of the commitment to marriage - the love of husband and wife is a “mirror” of the love of Christ for His Church.
 
Last year, not long before he came to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families, Pope Francis met with couples celebrating significant wedding anniversaries.  He told them about how he once asked a couple celebrating their diamond anniversary, “Are you happy?”.  To his surprise they replied with great emotion, “We are in love!”.
 
And the Holy Father said to all those gathered: “See, love is possible! You can live your whole life “in love”, ... despite the problems that come your way...This is beautiful.”
My dear brother priests, we chose our vocation because we too were ‘prompted by love’. Imagine if someone was to ask: are you happy in the priesthood? Might you answer: “Of course I’m happy - I’m in love with Christ! That is what sustains me as a priest, I celebrate it every day in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. I dispense His merciful love in the confessional; I anoint the sick and the dying with the healing love of Christ; what marks me out as a priest is the love I have for the people I serve”?

The love of Christ is at the heart of every Christian vocation. On Holy Thursday evening at the “washing of the feet”, we remember the parting words of Jesus to his disciples, “I give you a new commandment; love one another as I have loved you; this is how people will know that you are my disciples - the love you have for one another”.

To live our vocation every day prompted and inspired by the love of Christ brings us back to the joy and happiness of our ordination day. It “rejuvenates” us. It keeps us young! And it attracts others. No young person will want to consider a vocation to priesthood or to the religious life or, indeed, to marriage unless they see priests or sisters or married couples who are living happy lives in the Lord - in love with the heart of Jesus!
In his recent message to young people, Christus Vivit, “Christ is alive”, Pope Francis encourages adults, as they grow older, not to lose the joy of their youthful enthusiasm and openness to an ever greater reality” (CV160).  Pope Francis described how, when he began his ministry as Pope, the Lord broadened his horizons and granted him renewed youth.  It was as if he got renewed joy in his heart, a new spring in his step! He said the same thing can happen to a couple married for many years, or to a monk in the monastery - “growth in maturity can coexist with a fire constantly rekindled, with a heart ever young”.
 
The Holy Father would want the golden and diamond “jubilarians” among today’s priests to pass on their priestly joy and wisdom to those in the seminary and to the newly ordained.  He would encourage those who have been happily married for thirty, forty, fifty years to communicate their happiness and shared love to young people today - many of whom are fearful of making any kind of long term commitment.  Pope Francis asks:
 
“What can we elderly persons give to the young? “We can remind today’s young people, who have their own blend of heroic ambitions and insecurities, that a life without love is an arid life”. What can we tell them? “We can tell fearful young people that anxiety about the future can be overcome”. What can we teach them? “We can teach those young people, sometimes so focused on themselves, that there is more joy in giving than in receiving, and that love is not only shown in words, but also in actions” (CV197).
 
He also cautions us about reducing the Gospel to something dry, joyless, distant and separate from the reality of the lives of young people today. He says:
 
“Let us ask the Lord to free the Church from those who would make her grow old, encase her in the past, hold her back or keep her at a standstill. But let us also ask him to free her from another temptation: that of thinking she is young because she accepts everything the world offers her, thinking that she is renewed because she sets her message aside and acts like everybody else. No! The Church is young when she is herself, when she receives ever anew the strength born of God’s word, the Eucharist, and the daily presence of Christ and the power of his Spirit in our lives. The Church is young when she shows herself capable of constantly returning to her source” (CV35).
 
Dear brothers and sisters, these days of Holy Week and Easter give us an opportunity to “return to the source” - to God who is love; to Jesus Christ our Saviour who died on the cross out of love and mercy for us, sinners; to our Risen Lord who is alive and who is the answer to the confusion and shallowness that bombards all of us nowadays - and especially our young people.
 
In an Ireland where vocations to the priesthood and religious life are dwindling, where by 2030 the rate of marriage is expected to have declined by almost sixty percent over fifty years, we are challenged to present the vocation to priesthood, to consecrated life and to marriage, as fulfilling vocations to love God who loved us first!
 
Only a committed witness to the joy of love will attract young people to faithful, lifelong commitment and service of any kind.  As Pope Francis says to young adults in the opening words of his new message:
 
“Christ is alive! He is our hope ... and he wants you to be alive! ” (CV1)
 
Ad multos annos!                  



by armaghpriest.com on March 31st, 2019

7th April: Fifth Sunday of Lent
That priests, deacons, sisters and brothers who, for the sake of Christ, have suffered the loss of all things, will be strengthened in their vocations to bring many souls to the knowledge of salvation…

14th April: Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion
For all those being called to share in the passion of Christ as priests, deacons and in the consecrated life, that they will echo His Eternal Word of mercy in their own faithfulness to the Father’s will…

21st April: Easter Day of the Lord’s Resurrection
That the Risen Lord, made known to us through apostolic witness, will bestow upon us more men and women who will answer the call to proclaim His life, death and resurrection as priests, deacons, sisters and brothers…

28th April: Second Sunday of Easter
That we may be blessed with many priests and consecrated religious to serve as messengers of God’s divine mercy…


by armaghpriest.com on March 30th, 2019

By John Waters

On the Feast of the Annunciation, Pope Francis signed his Apostolic Exhortation for the Synod on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment.

“Christus vivit – Christ lives” is a letter to the world’s young people that represents the fruit of the October Synod. The Vatican will release the full text in the near future.

The Basilica of the Holy House in Loreto contains the walls of what tradition holds to be the house in which the Virgin Mary lived when the Angel Gabriel announced that she was to give birth to Jesus.

During his visit to Loreto, Pope Francis spoke about the Exhortation and explained that there are 3 sections to the document, which mirror 3 phases of the Synod process. To explain this further, he outlined this process whilst referencing the story of the Annunciation.

Listening
“The first moment, that of listening, is manifested by the words of the angel: ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.’ It is always God who takes the initiative in calling people to follow Him”, said the Pope.

He went on to explain that young people need to find moments of quiet and stillness to listen to God’s call and that God’s voice will not be heard amongst noise and agitation.

Instead, quiet and stillness will help young people discover that “His plan for our personal and social life is not perceived by remaining on the surface, but by descending to a deeper level, where moral and spiritual forces act. It is there that Mary invites young people to come down and tune in to God’s action.”

Discernment
Then comes the phase of discernment, which is “expressed in Mary’s words: ‘How will this happen?’ Mary does not doubt; her question is not a lack of faith; on the contrary, she expresses her own desire to discover God’s ‘surprises’. In her there is attention to grasping all the demands of God’s plan for her life, to knowing it in its facets, to make one’s collaboration more responsible and complete.”

Pope Francis said this is the proper attitude with which to follow God’s call in our lives, since this attitude allows people to discover not only what God’s plan is for their lives, but also how God’s grace will help them to develop the skills and abilities needed to live out his call for them.

Decision
“Decision is the third step that characterizes every Christian vocation, and it is made explicit by Mary’s response to the angel: ‘Let it be done to me according to your word.’ Her ‘yes’ to God’s plan of salvation, implemented by means of the Incarnation, is the handing over to Him of her whole life. It is the ‘yes’ of full trust and total openness to God’s will,” said the Pope.

He highlighted the Virgin Mary as the model Christian disciple and suggested that today’s young people try to imitate her example as they search for God’s plan for their lives.

The Pope pointed out that Mary had lived a multitude of family relationships.

She was a daughter, a fiancée, a bride and a mother, so all young people, no matter what their role in life and calling from God, can find an example and inspiration in her.



(Originally posted here: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-03/pope-francis-signs-synod-exhortation-paplor.html)

by armaghpriest.com on March 25th, 2019

Gabriel, one of our seminarians, speaks about some of those who inspired him to consider the call to priesthood.

by armaghpriest.com on March 20th, 2019

BY SISTER ANNA MARIE MCGUAN

Recently, I was asked about priestly celibacy by a person interested in becoming Catholic. The practice of priestly celibacy is viewed with suspicion, he explained, because Protestants are unfamiliar with it and it seems unnatural. Besides that, his is a timely question given that some people have pointed to celibacy as having a direct causal link to the abuse crisis in the Church.

Celibacy, or chastity, seems like a stumbling block for people. What is celibacy, exactly? According to the glossary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, celibacy is “the state or condition of those who have chosen to remain unmarried.”

But why would a man choose that life, or why is this the standard discipline for priests in the Roman (Latin-rite) Catholic Church?

First, the nature of the priesthood has to be understood. Simply put, each man who becomes a priest becomes a minister of Jesus Christ’s own priesthood. Jesus’ priesthood is made visible and present through these ordained ministers. They participate in Jesus’ life and priesthood in a specific way. Therefore, a look at Scripture and how Jesus himself lived is helpful to see the foundations on which priest’s life is modeled.

Jesus did not marry. He also spoke positively about those who remain celibate “for the sake of the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 19:12). Indeed, Jesus chose, from among his followers, certain men to be with him and become “fishers of men” (Mt 4:19; Mk 1:17). His invitation to them was to leave everything behind for the sake of the kingdom of God. Therefore, this practice of total dedication to God in and through Christ goes back to the very beginning of discipleship. Today as well, men are chosen by God to “to consecrate themselves with undivided heart to the Lord” (CCC, No. 1579).

Jesus is not the only person in the Bible, however, to have lived a single life with the intention of being consecrated for God’s purposes. The prophet Jeremiah, for example, appears to have remained celibate. He was called from his youth (see Jer 1:6-7) and never mentions a wife or family like some of the other prophets. Another example, closer to the time of Jesus, is John the Baptist. The last in the long line of biblical prophets, John’s entire life was lived as a sign that pointed to Jesus, even from his time in the womb (Lk 1:41-44). Everything about him pointed to the transcendent realm, including his choice to forego a wife and children. While it is true that celibacy was not a common practice at the time of Christ, it was not unheard of. In fact, there are examples from Qumran, a desert community in existence around the time of Jesus, of a type of celibacy lived in community.

Additionally, priests are not the only celibates in the Catholic Church. The consecrated life in its various forms entails some type of commitment to chastity, either a promise, private vow, public vow or some other sacred bond.

Getting back to the definition of celibacy mentioned above, it related only to the state of being unmarried. Any discussion on celibacy must relate back to chastity, which is the virtue by which a person integrates his or her sexuality in a healthy way appropriate to his or her state in life. The goal of chastity is the wholeness and integrity of the person in his bodily and spiritual being. This is true for married persons as well as celibate persons. However, chastity in the context of consecrated life entails refraining from any behaviors in the realm of sexuality that belong properly to marriage, as well as avoiding any offenses against chastity such as masturbation, pornography or fornication. Religious chastity is also a gift to those called by God to lead a life totally dedicated to him.

Is it “unnatural” to lead a celibate life and, therefore, practice continence within chastity? In one sense, yes, and in another, no. The proper path of sexual expression for most people is that of marriage, in which two persons give each other their bodies as “a sign and pledge of spiritual communion” (CCC, No. 2360). This is a great good, and marriage, while not easy, is the natural path that most people take to live the vocation to love God and neighbor to which we are all called.

There are some, however, as Jesus points out in the Gospels, who renounce marriage and the goods of marriage (holiness together as husband and wife, welcoming and educating children) for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Not only that, the fact that some people do this is a very good thing.

Living out chastity for the sake of the kingdom of heaven means to live one’s life as a sign that points to God all the time. The married state is good and beautiful, and at the same time God is more beautiful and better. He is so good, in fact, that it is legitimate to offer everything to him and live for him alone. A consecrated person, whether priest or religious, witnesses to that by the very way he or she lives. The highest form of love is not the love between husband and love, it is the love of God, charity. This charity can and should inform all other relationships of love. This means that they are rooted in a person’s relationship with God and lead to a further and deeper love of God.

In addition, Jesus tells us that there will be no marriage in heaven. Rather, he says, in “the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are like the angels in heaven” (Mt 22:30). For this reason, the consecrated life or the celibate life is an eschatological signpost that points to heaven. Essentially, the message is: Remember where you ultimately want to be headed. Remember your end. Do what it takes to get there.

Returning to an earlier question, living chastity for the kingdom of heaven is not “unnatural” — it is supernatural. It is to live as God’s messenger, all day, every day. Like all vocations, that takes faith, hope and charity. It also takes prayer, asceticism, more prayer and fidelity to the age-old practices that help form the interior spiritual life. Good, holy friendships are also a wonderful aid to chastity, no matter what a person’s vocation is.

The goal in each vocation is to love God with all one’s heart, mind, soul and strength, and to love one’s neighbor like one’s self. To each person, God will give the graces necessary to grow in holiness if and when we cooperate with him.

Sister Anna Marie McGuan, R.S.M., is Director of Christian Formation in the Diocese of Knoxville.


(Originally posted here: https://simplycatholic.com/why-celibacy/)

by armaghpriest.com on March 12th, 2019

For all men and women being called by Christ to follow Him as priests, deacons, sisters and brothers, that they will persevere in the face of temptations against faithfulness to their call…

17th March: Second Sunday of Lent; St. Patrick, bishop
That our priests, who bring us to the mountain of Christ at every Mass and feed us with His transforming love in the Holy Eucharist, will be strengthened in their life and vocation…

24th March: Third Sunday of Lent
That like Moses, young people will enter more deeply into conversation with the Lord in prayer as they seek to discover their vocations in Christ…

25th March: The Annunciation of the Lord
That through the intercession of our Heavenly Mother, we will be blessed with abundant vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life…

31st March: Fourth Sunday of Lent

For the faithful response of all persons now being called to seek out those who are lost and bring them back to life in Christ by serving Him and His Church as priests, deacons, sisters and brothers…



by armaghpriest.com on February 12th, 2019

Bartek, one of our seminarians, speaks about how his family & friends reacted when he told them he was being called to priesthood.

by armaghpriest.com on February 8th, 2019

Gabriel, one of our seminarians, speaks about the doubt of not being good enough to be a priest.

by armaghpriest.com on February 7th, 2019

This morning I’m sitting in an airport in Italy on my way to Brussels trying to figure out if I ought to go to the Netherlands in three days since my plans in Germany were canceled.

This is no grand European vacation. It’s just my life. For nearly seven years I’ve been a hobo missionary, living out of my car in the States and out of a carry-on suitcase abroad, traveling the world to tell people about the fierce, tender, unceasing, life-changing love of our God. Sometimes I have events scheduled six months in advance; other times I wake up in the morning not knowing what state I’ll spend the night in.

It’s a life of near-constant discernment, trying to figure out where to go and when, how long to stay and what to speak on. But I don’t spend a lot of time sitting in prayer waiting for angels to descend and hand me an itinerary. In fact, I discern in just the same way I tell others to discern: I’ve largely quit seeking God’s will.

Given that discernment is a prayerful attempt to figure out God’s will, this sure seems counter-intuitive. But hear me out on this one. We spend a lot of our lives discerning—not just figuring out whether we’re being called to marriage or consecrated life, but trying to determine God’s will for our families, our careers, our diets, our reading lists. Desiring to be in God’s will is essential to the Christian life.

But those of us who are concerned with doing God’s will can easily fall into a dangerous trap: We seek God’s will above all things. Even above God. We use him as a Magic 8-Ball, going to prayer only to figure things out and not to come to know him better. We treat his will like a scavenger hunt set up by a mischievous (or sadistic) higher power who sends us signs and then laughs (or rages) when we don’t notice them. We obsess over ourselves and our skills and our desires and our future and call it prayer.


Healthier discernment, I think, requires us to stop seeking God’s will and start seeking God, to stop using him as a fortune-teller and start looking to him as Lord and lover of souls. If we run after the Lord, we will find ourselves in his will.

Ultimately, while I take my plans to prayer, I speak to the Lord about them and then leave them at his feet. I try not to insist on working out every detail there in the chapel, on interrupting my prayer to double check flight times and degree prerequisites. Instead, I spend serious time in silent prayer every day and I trust.

I trust that if I’m in a state of grace and running after Jesus, he’s either going to form my heart to desire what he desires, or he’s going to stop me before I do something stupid, or he’s going to fix it afterward. I sit before him every day trying to love him more and more and then I live my life. And I try not to lose peace over confusion or uncertainty, because I know that God delights in me. I know that if I’m earnestly trying to live in his will, he’s not going to punish me (here or hereafter) for getting it wrong.

It’s entirely possible that I’m going to go to my judgment and find the triune God standing baffled before me, wondering why on earth I thought I ought to be homeless and unemployed for the sake of the kingdom. There’s a reason people don’t live this way, and perhaps I’ve gotten it totally wrong and I was really supposed to be an accountant in Idaho or something.

Still, I expect to see pleasure mixed in with the bafflement. “Oh, but honey, well done. It was a weird life you chose, but you tried so hard. You got it wrong, but you sure were seeking me.”

I think he delights in my efforts, however ridiculous they might be, and I find great peace in that. I can’t mess up discernment so badly that I ruin his plan for me, because ultimately his plan is for my holiness. If I’m seeking him, he’ll accomplish that, whatever odd paths it might take.

So if you find yourself stressing out about figuring out God’s will, here’s my advice: Stop seeking God’s will and start seeking God. Make time for silent prayer every day, not to figure out your future but to learn to love him. Then make what seems like the best choice. Don’t wait for a sign. If priesthood doesn’t seem like a terrible idea, just enter the seminary. If you might want to be a missionary, just apply. Don’t sit paralyzed by lack of certainty; pray and then act and trust that God will bring good out of your good intentions.

By Meg Hunter-Kilmer

(Article sourced here on 07/02/2019: https://aleteia.org/2019/01/28/if-youre-discerning-you-have-to-read-this-it-will-change-what-you-think-you-know/)

by armaghpriest.com on February 7th, 2019

Prayer of the Faithful – February 2019 (Year C)

3rd February: Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
For those being called to the way of celibacy for the sake of the kingdom as priests, sisters and brothers, that they will be encouraged to follow the Lord, faithful to His choice of them…

10th February: Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
For all men and women being called by Jesus to teach the Gospel as priests, deacons, sisters and brothers, that the joy of the Lord will remain their strength during their discernment, formation and mission…

17th February: Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
That all those being called to follow Jesus in the priesthood or consecrated life will allow the Holy Spirit to strengthen them each day in answering this call…

24th February: Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
For perseverance in sincere prayer on the part of the faithful, asking the Lord for holy vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life…

3rd March: Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
That the Lord will bless us with vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life to serve as teachers to his flock…