Hurricane Katrina

Katrina refugees make their way to safety

 
 
 

Being on retreat kept me a bit out of the loop of the disaster in the south at the hands of Hurricane Katrina. They did tell us about it and we kept the people of the south in prayer. It’s just hard to imagine all the death and destruction one storm can create. All we can try to do is help and pray.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.

Lord Jesus, hear our prayer.

Contribute: Catholic Charities USAmoreBlog for Relief
After you contribute, record your contribution so that we can all see how the kingdom works!

 
 
 
 
 

Being a pastor doesn’t mean you can be an ass.

“New Orleans now is abortion free. New Orleans now is Mardi Gras free. New Orleans now is free of Southern Decadence and the sodomites, the witchcraft workers, false religion — it’s free of all of those things now,” Shanks says. “God simply, I believe, in His mercy purged all of that stuff out of there — and now we’re going to start over again.”

Rev. Bill Shanks, pastor of New Covenant Fellowship of New Orleans

Shame on him.

Three Promises: A Reflection on Diaconate Retreat

It’s been a crazy week/weekend so far. I finished my retreat Friday morning, and left Friday afternoon for my friend’s diaconate ordination in Springfield, IL. I stayed there overnight (free lodging is a goooooood thing!) and am finally back and getting ready to return to Mundelein sometime tomorrow night.

I should probably be packing things up, but … nah! plenty of time for that later!

But a little about the diaconate retreat. I had probably the most significant retreat of my seminary time, and that was a really cool thing. The retreat director was an oldish (70’s) Jesuit who has been doing this retreat for Mundelein for 20 years. Unfortunately, that kind of showed in his presentation, as it was full of a lot of cliche things that he’s probably been using from time immemorial. But the bulk of his stuff was actually pretty good. The retreat house was very nice — lots of good scenery, well maintained and very clean. I was with a lot of my classmates I don’t usually hang out with, and had a great time. So all in all, it was cool.

The best part, though, was that there was plenty of time for long walks and time to reflect. One of those was after the talk on celibacy, and I took the time to pray over my three promises. It was incredibly consoling to know at the end of the walk that I feel ready to make those promises now.

I feel like my work in seminary on dealing with conflict has made me more able to make a promise of obedience in the best sense of the word: to follow my bishops’ orders with generosity, but able to make my own needs known and not pretending they’re not important. As far as the prayer promise goes, I know that prayer is central to my pastoral ministry and that pastoral ministry is central to my prayer. I can’t do one without the other. And as for celibacy, I have to say that probably the reason I feel ready to live that promise is the time I spent discussing it with my CPE group. It was either TV or SM (maybe both) who said that having that discussion was like being on holy ground. Well, it was for me too. And I have come to know that healthy relationships with others — Catholics and non-Catholics alike — is central to living as a healthy celibate man in the world.

It was a great retreat, and it helped me to solidify my vocational call, which after all is the whole point of a retreat. Thanks again for your prayer support. Diaconate ordination is something like 62 days and counting! 🙂

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Conflict is one of the hardest things for me. When I am presented with an issue of conflict, my own Irish Catholic heritage says, “we shall never speak of this again.” For me, being silent in the face of conflict is a way of hardening my heart.

Because sometimes when we hear God’s voice, that voice tells us to speak out and say things people may want to hear. But as difficult as that call can be, we must never turn away from that call — and it’s not easy. Because conflict is the least of our problems. Not mentioning what God calls us to say results in not only the death — spiritual or actual — of others, but in our own death as well. So what’s a little conflict in the face of that?

Amen, I say to you,
whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven,
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

The truth is sometimes difficult, but as Christians we are always “on for” the truth, to use the words of one of my moral theology professors. We are called on — mandated, as this quotation from Sunday’s Gospel tells us — to speak the truth, proclaim the truth, insist on the truth, and live the truth. We are called to bind each other to the truth, and loose each other from the other nonsense to which this passing world would bind us. Indeed, only by binding one another to the truth can we truly loose each other from sin.

Lord, grant that when we speak, we may always speak the truth. Grant that when we hear your voice, no matter how difficult the call, we would never harden our hearts.