Ordination Registry: like a wedding registry, but for Catholic Priests

During my immediate preparation for Ordination 5 years ago, Many priests told me to discourage gifts of Rosaries and Crucifixes. Some priests were considerate by gifting a useful Ritual Item from the Church Supply Store. However, many Catholics are understandably clueless on what sort of useful gifts to give priests, or where to find them.

So I steered people in the direction of Restaurant Gift Cards. I received a Gift Certificate to a local Church supply store from a leader in one of our parishes. I attempted to purchase useful items for priestly ministry. One person wanted to purchase a Chasuble, but relented upon discovering the average pricetag of $500+. Another person desired I have a Travel Mass kit, but was shocked to find them upwards of $600.

In 2013, I used Amazon to only purchase text books, Blu Ray movies or electronic supplies. It would not have occured to me to search Amazon for Clergy or Church supplies. In my quest to construct a Travel Mass kit, I scoured the internet, and shocked to find so much available on Amazon. It was no surprise to find Ritual Books, but to find Holy Water Sprinklers, Chasubles, Stoles, Holy Oil Stocks, and even Statues was a novelty. I realized that I could have created an Amazon wishlist like an Ordination Registry. Often, these items are third-party vendors, that are able to sell merchandise through Amazon, so you may actually be supporting small Christian business throughout the country.

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Sisterhood, Reality TV about young discerners

Be sure to check out the show on LifeTime: mylifetime.com/shows/the-sisterhood-becoming-nuns

Be sure to check out the show on LifeTime: mylifetime.com/shows/the-sisterhood-becoming-nuns

The Sisterhood: Becoming Nuns is a reality show on Lifetime candidly chronicling 5 20-something women discerning a call to Religious Life. I joined the Augustinians in my early 20’s, and thought I could attest to the validity of what these women go through in the course of the series. However, there were only two noticeable differences that I will comment on briefly. However, instead of commenting overall what seems true for almost anyone, I would rather comment on what I have related to in one way or another discussing each of the Sisters, and what they are going through.

“God or the Girl” Reality Show about Priesthood Discerners?

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Dating and Discerning the Priesthood, for the Guys.

Katrina Fernandez, the Crescat, recently blogged about Dating the “discerning man.” She wrote it for the ladies. She also referenced another one on Seraphic Singles from last year.

I thought, as an Friar, a Seminarian, an active discerner, who is working at growing in my vocation in religious life, I would add my own thoughts.

I was never in the situation described, where I thought God would want me to dump the girl I was dating for the priesthood. I was single for a while, then I made a commitment to being deliberately single, then suddenly I had to turn down an opportunity when it presented itself. After my single commitment I arrived at the conclusion that I was called to religious life. Suddenly two more girls (almost randomly from my perspective) professed their love for me. Each of them did not want to be just friends, it was either all or nothing, and so I was dumped. It was sad for me on account of one of them who I actually valued as a friend.

In all honesty, I sound really cold about it, but I continued to bear a tremendous amount of displaced guilt for something I was not responsible for. Its hard for me to talk about. The pattern continued, some girl would profess her love for me, when all I thought I was doing was being kind and/or friendly. This is not me trying to get into a blame game. What I found in the process was that a woman’s heart is so intricate, so wonderful, so connected, so incomparable in all the world, but to the average man it appears overbearingly emotional.

I don’t know, any man is doing a bad job, who hopes to gives his life with the ultimate reverent care for the Eucharist, when he can quite easily be irreverent to the girl he is dating, by conclusively ending a relationship so he can discern. I had gone out with a girl, who kept telling me I would make a good priest. Maybe a guy who feels a tug to discern might want to get some input from his girlfriend. I think that is part of discerning, and God may be speaking through her.

I also believe that we also need a very specific and concrete short term single commitment to discern our vocation. Volunteer programs are especially helpful for this. I also, impractically, believe that dating should be put off until adulthood, but anyways, I am not very confident in enforcing this lol!

I think another thing, which is also really difficult is even being around women. I have been attentive to a few young women who really feel cheated by seminarians who play games with their hearts. Sometimes it might just be easier to not talk to associate with any women in general. It is easy for me, perhaps because I know who I am, and where I belong. It is also, perhaps easier, because I am called to celibacy, that it is easy for me to love and be loved in way that is celibate and chaste.

It is important that people who are actually in a seminary, or religious order, have a clear sense of boundaries. For instance, I refuse to individually drink alcohol with single women. I am incredibly conscientious of the time I spend with women and where. So if you cannot have enough personal boundaries, you can do a whole lot of damage as a priest. Women who think a seminarian is attractive, a man without boundaries can do a whole lot of boundaries as a husband and a father.

Finally, I don’t believe having absolutely no contact with the opposite sex is essential to a wholesome life. It is not for me personally. I am of the conviction that women, as Sisters in Christ, will always have a unique gift to offer that God would not offer through any other means. These are usually particular insights that are ought to be uncommon around any group of men, if not that women my be somewhat inherently valuable in essence. But that is just the way I see it. And it does not follow, in my mind, or in my heart, that marriage has anything to do with it.

A balance between the boundaries and genuine appreciation. So when most guys are like frustrated for getting friendzoned, I am like “SUCCESS!!!!”

Something so beautiful is oddly is so discouraged

USA Today has an article on Sisters and Nuns, and the lack of encouragement that they receive at home. It can be found here.

I previously posted an article with some of the statistics on todays Consecrated Women, and I already found it incredibly alarming that more then half of women joining the convent have been discouraged.

For your average young woman, or teenage girl, Cosmopolitan’s view of the woman’s purpose is life is shoved down their throat, filled with all sorts of hypocritical contradictions. If there are almost 800,000 women in the world who have chosen this life then there can’t be anything odd about it, yet it is considered so odd.

Two years before I joined the Order of St. Augustine, I brought my dad to an ordination of one of our men. It gave him enough comfort to let me go into the hands of these friars. My dad doesn’t just have some sort of media or entertainment driven image of religious life that makes them all into bitter old prudes, my dad was actually in minor seminary. My dad was in a minor seminary in a separate religious Order, and knew a few friars that were raving mad, and in his own experience he has some reason to have reservations.

Having him regularly spend time with the Friars was enough to give him comfort with letting me go. It might be a good idea that young women discerning a vocation find a way to bring their parents to the convent so that they can meet the Sisters, see their smiles, eat food with them, and experience the natural and even supernatural goodness that drew their daughter into the convent.

There is also a certain irony in all this. When a girl gets engaged, everyone gets very cheerful. Women start screaming and squeeling, and they all gather together plotting. Most of all they express their excitement to each other. For a young woman who enters the convent, she is living out an expression of an engagement to Jesus Christ, and the reactions should be similar. Ironically they are not. That is why, whenever a young woman admits to me she might have a vocation I would make an extra effort to express regular support.

A woman saw me the other day, and commented on how hip my dress is.  I typically wear Vans or Chucks with my habit.  In this case, I was wearing solid black jeans with my Priest Collar shirt, and a stylish Sweatshirt.  Of course, that has more to do with Fashion, then with Homiletic Content.

Most people don’t go around saying “We want our Priests to be more fashionable!!!” Even the most materialistic, superficial sorts. Nobody stops going to Church because a Priest is not fashionable or hip. Priests tend to have a certain amount of leeway. On the other hand, most people don’t have experiences with priests who go overboard with trying to be hip, fashionable or relevant. Since it is so infrequent for a priest to be touching on pop culture at all in a homily, most people will not be thinking “Here we go again.”

Gaudiem Et Spes tells us to “Read the Signs of the Times.” That might mean being knowledgeable about what is popular. Some people think it means changing Church Teaching to Keep up with what is relevant. I think that it means understanding what is beneath people’s yearnings, and finding what in our tradition speaks to that, or finding a new way to communicate the Gospel to that. In reality, I believe that God & His People already have what is necessary to the human heart, it is usually that we don’t know the right way to say it. an example would be to find an instance in a recent film, like Iron Man, and finding something that mirrors our faith, then highlighting that aspect of our faith that really matters.

In this case, a priest refers to Jersey Shore. The writer is not interested in Jersey Shore analogies in homilies.  I wouldn’t be either.  Although, I do believe, by and large, we need not always be dependent on appealing to the “New Thing.”  I mean seriously, don’t we have a wealth of knowledge, tradition, mysticism, and doctrine to appeal to as well?  Further, there are just some things in our Pop Culture that are just disgusting, and I would find it insulting to think that a priest is trying to appeal to my level or tastes using something as disgusting as Jersey Shore (or MTV for that matter). The Priest is insulting me, myself and perhaps the entire Church by going that low.

Is being a Hip Priest Overrated?