The National Institute for the Renewal of the Priesthood

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Sunday Sermon

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Father Gene Hemrick shares his thoughts about the virtue of understanding (May 13, 2014)

Fr. Gene interviewed on Relevant Radio about Multi-Culturism

This is the time of year when hope is in abundance -- Father Gene thinks so too, and shares some ideas about hope on Relevant Radio

November 12 interview with Father Gene about the lessons to be learned from "Homespun Wisdom"

Interesting interview with Fr. Gene about the changes we see all around us dealing with security -- our own and that of others

Follow this link to our digital Archive
and explore some more of our audio files

July 24, 2014

In this edition:
1. Catholic colleges and priestly vocations.
2. Encouragement vital to priestly vocations.
3. Vocations and Hispanic Catholics.
4. Current quotes to ponder:
a) Children crossing U.S. borders.
b) Interreligious dialogue.
c) "Sacred," a term redefined.
5. Making Catholic preaching better.
6. Care for the sick: perspective on Lourdes.

July 10, 2014

In this edition:
1. Upcoming synod's vast challenge.
2. Urgent pastoral needs of families.
3. Quoting the synod's working paper:
a) Families and communication.
b) Work and family life.
c) The families of a parish.
d) The separated and divorced; single parents.
4. Communicating better on marriage, family.
5. Complexity of family life.

(Click on the title for the rest of each newsletter)

Here's What We're Reading!

Saint Paul: Master of the Spiritual Life in Christ, Author: Elliott C. Maloney, O.S.B.

Silent Compassion: Finding God in Contemplation, Richard Rohr

Pope Francis and Our Call To Joy, Diane M. Houdek

The Way of Serenity: Finding Peace and Happiness in the Serenity Prayer, Father Jonathan Morris

Freedom and Forgiveness: A Fresh Look at the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Father Paul Farren

Meditations Before Mass, Author: Romano Guardini

Be Not Afraid: Wisdom from John Paul II, Compiled by Marianne Lorraine Trouve, PSP

Secret to Happiness: Wisdom from John XXIII, Pauline Books & Media

The Vision of Saint John XXIII, Randall S. Rosenberg

It's in the News!

Pope Francis reveals top 10 secrets to happiness

Carol Glatz Catholic News Service
July 29, 2014 The Francis Chronicles

Vatican City

Slowing down, being generous and fighting for peace are part of Pope Francis' secret recipe for happiness.

In an interview published Sunday in part in the Argentine weekly Viva, the pope listed his Top 10 tips for bringing greater joy to one's life:

1. "Live and let live." Everyone should be guided by this principle, he said, which has a similar expression in Rome with the saying, "Move forward and let others do the same."

2. "Be giving of yourself to others." People need to be open and generous toward others, he said, because "if you withdraw into yourself, you run the risk of becoming egocentric. And stagnant water becomes putrid."

3. "Proceed calmly" in life. The pope, who used to teach high school literature, used an image from an Argentine novel by Ricardo Guiraldes, in which the protagonist -- gaucho Don Segundo Sombra -- looks back on how he lived his life.

"He says that in his youth he was a stream full of rocks that he carried with him; as an adult, a rushing river; and in old age, he was still moving, but slowly, like a pool" of water, the pope said. He said he likes this latter image of a pool of water -- to have "the ability to move with kindness and humility, a calmness in life."

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Marriage: listening with the ear of the heart

Melissa Musick Nussbaum | Jul. 29, 2014

Synod on the Family


Editor's note: The 50-page instrumentum laboris, or working document, that was released June 26 and will guide the discussion during the October Synod of Bishops on the family was dry and impersonal, lifeless almost, and that confounded us at NCR.

From personal experience and from listening to colleagues, readers and friends, we have experienced marriage and family life as life-giving and joyous. Marriage and family life is not without its challenges and struggles; it offers ample lessons in humility and forgiveness, but that, too, at the best of times can be nurturing. If the writers of the instrumentum laboris, which is now supposed to be being studied in dioceses throughout the world, had begun with the fundamental experience of people who have lived in marriages and raised families, we wondered, how different would it have been?

So we asked two NCR contributors to answer this: If the Synod of Bishops asked me about marriage, what would I say? On Monday, we ran Mike Leach's response [1]. Today, Melissa Musick Nussbaum.

About the time my cousin discovered what all wives eventually learn, that Prince Charming is an amphibian, that is, half prince, half frog, she went to our grandmother for

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Survey: Most Americans say U.S. should shelter, not rush to deport, child migrants

Cathy Lynn Grossman Religion News Service
July 29, 2014 Immigration and the Church

Most Americans say the waves of children crossing into the United States from Central America are refugees fleeing danger at home. And they say the United States should support these children while reviewing their cases, not deport them immediately.

These largely sympathetic views come from all points along the political and religious spectrum, according to a new survey by the Public Religion Research Institute on Tuesday.

Democrats (80 percent), independents (69 percent) and Republicans (57 percent) favor offering support to unaccompanied children while a process to review their cases gets underway.

Most major religious groups say the same, including white evangelical Protestants (56 percent), white mainline Protestants (67 percent), minority Protestants (74 percent), Catholics (75 percent) and the religiously unaffiliated (75 percent).

(The survey sample of 1,026 adults was not large enough to capture the views of smaller religious groups, such as Jews, Muslims or Mormons).

"It makes a difference that we are talking about children facing violence and harm," said Robert P. Jones, CEO of PRRI. "The value of keeping families

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Searching for the Right Fuel

Ron Rolheiser

Sometimes everything can seem right on the surface while, deep down, nothing is right at all. We see this, for example, in the famous parable in the gospels about the Prodigal Son and his Older Brother. By every outward appearance the Older Brother is doing everything right: He's perfectly obedient to his father, is at home, and is doing everything his father asks of him. And, unlike his younger brother, he's not wasting his father's property on prostitutes and partying. He seems a model of generosity and morality.

However, as soon becomes obvious in the story, things are far from right. While his life looks so good on the outside, he is full of resentment and bitter moralizing inside and is, in fact, envious of his brother's amorality. What's happening? In essence, his actions are right, but his energy is wrong.

But, lest we judge him too harshly, we need to have the honesty to acknowledge that we all struggle in this way, at least if we are moral and generous. What is played out in the bitterness of the Older Brother is, in the astute words of Alice Miller, "the drama of the gifted child", namely, the resentment, self-pity, and propensity for bitter moralizing that inevitably besets those of us who don't stray from our duties, who do stay home, and who carry the brunt of the load for our families, churches, and communities. Sadly, often, the feeling we are left with when we give our lives over in sacrifice is not joy and gratitude for having been given the grace, opportunity, and good sense to

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A Visit from the Goddess of Night

Ron Rolheiser

There are few more insightful studies into the spirituality of aging than the late James Hillman's book, The Force of Character. Ironically Hillman was more critical of Christian spirituality than sympathetic to it; yet his brilliant insights into nature's design and intent offer perspectives on the spirituality of aging that often eclipse what is found in explicitly Christian writings.

Hillman begins this book, a discourse on the nature of aging, with a question: Why would nature design things so that, as humans, just as we reach the pinnacle of our maturity and finally get more of a genuine grip on our lives, our bodies begin to fall apart? Why do we suffer such a bevy of physical ailments as we age? Is this a cruel trick or does nature have a specific intent in mind when it does this? What might nature have in mind when the ailments and physical foibles of age begin to play some havoc with our days and nights?

He answers these questions with a metaphor: The best wines have to be aged and mellowed in cracked old barrels. This image of course needs little explication. We all know the difference between a mellow old wine and a tart young one that could still use some maturation. What we don't grasp as immediately is how that old wine became so mellow, what processes it had to endure to give up the sharp tang of its youth.

Thus, Hillman's metaphor speaks brilliantly: Our physical bodies are the containers within

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How can I help the children coming across the border?

by Tracy Abeln
July 10, 2014 in
GSR Today
Reprinted in the National Catholic Reporter

When the pressures of poverty and violence become too heavy, people risk moving to someplace they perceive to be -- or hope will be -- better. Moving itself is risky. What awaits you when you leave the Philippines for a Middle Eastern overseas work position? What becomes of your identity when you are living in a refugee camp in Jordan, South Sudan, Kenya, for months and sometimes years on end?

There will be new land, new language, new food -- if there is enough food -- and the near-certain fact of human nature that whoever is already occupying that land will feel threatened on some level. You have come for their jobs. Your tent city is costing their government millions. Your sheer numbers are overwhelming.

Global Sisters Report has posted numerous stories about these realities, and we know that your feelings are ones of compassion, not revulsion: Catholic social justice wanting to be put into action.

This week, Sr. Joan Brown alludes to the pressures of poverty and how the environment relates to the wave of Western hemisphere migration in her column.

Sr. Janet Gildea gave us an update about her community and others who are working at

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Catholic and libertarian? Pope's top adviser says they're incompatible

By David Gibson | Religion News Service

Report on conference hosted by the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies at Catholic University of America in Washington, DC

WASHINGTON -- Taking direct aim at libertarian policies promoted by many American conservatives, the Honduran cardinal who is one of Pope Francis' top advisers said Tuesday (June 3) that today's free market system is "a new idol" that is increasing inequality and excluding the poor.

"This economy kills," said Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, quoting Francis frequently in a speech delivered at a conference on Catholicism and libertarianism held a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol.

The pope, Maradiaga said, grew up in Argentina and "has a profound knowledge of the life of the poor." That is why, he said, Francis continues to insist that "the elimination of the structural causes for poverty is a matter of urgency that can no longer be postponed."

"The hungry or sick child of the poor cannot wait," the cardinal said.

Maradiaga, who heads a kitchen cabinet of eight cardinals from around the world that Francis established to advise him shortly after his election last

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Lifting up leaders

by Nuri Vallbona

Jun. 26, 2014 in Ministry
Austin, Texas

Koreena Malone knew she couldn't do it alone. The single mother of three didn't know how she could lead the charge to save 173 affordable housing units at her apartment complex. But if she did nothing, she risked losing her family's apartment on a quiet tree-lined street that was close to her children's school.

"I begged people -- I can't do this right now," Malone said. "I was studying for the CPA, I'm a mother. I was, like, someone else has to take this on. There has to be somebody else."

There wasn't.

But Austin Interfaith saw it differently. At a gathering with the apartment's tenants and the neighborhood association, Jesse Posner had identified Malone as a leader.

Posner was the lead organizer of Austin Interfaith, a part of a regional community-building network known as the West/Southwest Industrial Areas Foundation. Posner was at the meeting to do what Sr. Christine Stephens, co-director of the foundation, had trained her to do: spot leaders who could find alternatives to tearing down the Oak Creek Village Apartments.

"You find people who . . . if put into relationship with one another and taught how to organize, can do just incredible

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Disciples with many Faces

Ron Rolheiser

In a new book entitled, Jesus of Nazareth, famed German scripture-scholar, Gerhard Lohfink, describes how people in the gospels relate to Jesus in different ways. Not everyone was an apostle, not everyone was a disciple, and not everyone who contributed to Jesus' cause even followed him. Different individuals had their own way of connecting to Jesus. Here's how he puts it:

"We may say that the gospels, especially Mark, are aware of a great variety of forms of participation in Jesus' cause. There were the Twelve. There was a broader circle of disciples. There were those who participated in Jesus' life. There were localized, resident adherents who made their houses available. There were people who helped in particular situations, if only by offering a cup of water. Finally, there were the beneficiaries who profited from Jesus' cause and for that reason did not speak against it."

Lohfink then makes this observation: "These structural lines that run through the gospels are not accidental. … In today's church, because it is a shapeless mass, we can find all these forms expressed. It is a complex pattern, as complex as the human body. The openness of the gospels, the openness of Jesus must warn us against regarding people as lacking in faith if they are unable to adopt a disciple's way of life or if it is something

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Robert Moore on Human Energy

Ron Rolheiser

Few thinkers have influenced me as profoundly as Robert L. Moore. Who is he? He's a scholar who has spent almost 50 years studying human energy from the perspective of psychology, anthropology, and spirituality. Few scholars are his equal in linking human energy, even when it is raw and grandiose, to the image and likeness of God inside of us. He merits an audience.

Recently, I had the privilege of attending an Institute at which he keynoted. I share with you a couple of his insights:

Our growing anxiety and our need to build "an arc" so as not drown in it:

Our lives today are awash with anxiety and this is wreaking psychological and spiritual havoc everywhere. We are being assailed by "unregulated anxiety" and, as this anxiety is rising, our capacity to handle it

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Pope: Corruption is easiest 'sin at fingertips' of anyone with power

Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

Vatican City

For everyone who has any kind of authority over others, the one sin "at your fingertips" is the sin of corruption, Pope Francis said.

And "the martyrs of corruption" -- those who end up paying the price for the politicians, financiers and church officials who abuse their power -- are the poor and the marginalized, he said during his early morning Mass Monday in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he lives.

The pope's homily was based on the day's reading from the First Book of Kings (21:1-16) in which King Ahab of Samaria felt entitled to a neighboring vineyard owned by Naboth, who refused to sell his property to the king. The king nonchalantly took possession of the land after his wife had Naboth killed in

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Walk in His Ways: A Monastic Journey of Life and Light

Author: Br. Victor-Antoine d'Avila-Latourrette
Liguori, Liguori, Missouri. 2014. Pp. 393

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

All years are filled with possibility, encapsulated as they are within the mystery of God and time. What do you want this year to bring? How can you balance your faith with the busyness you face every day, every year?

Br. Victor-Antoine d'Avia-Latourrette shares unique, personal insights in this daily monastic journal that will help you down the path to grace and spiritual strengthening. Through the simple, down-to-earth anecdotes of his daily life in rural upstate New York, stories of grace and connection to the saints, prayers, and reflections, Br. Victor-Antoine proposes a means to keep our minds and

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Our inspiration for the National Institute for the Renewal of the Priesthood stems from a longstanding friendship with Father John Klein, a priest of the

Fr. Klein's picture

Archdiocese of Chicago. On the day of his passing in 1999 at the age of 49, Cardinal Francis George said "Father John Klein was a model for seminarians and priests. His joy in his priestly ministry encouraged all of us and was a sign of the Lord's constant presence in his life." May we learn from his example and strive to be the presence of Christ in the lives of all those we touch every day as priests and fellow citizens of the world.

Our work is made possible in part by grants from the Catholic Church Extension Society, the Paluch Family Foundation and Our Sunday Visitor. We are also grateful for the prayers of the Madonna House. In addition, The Arthur J. Schmitt Foundation has generously provided us with a grant in honor of Monsignor Ken Velo, a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago who has been an inspiration to so many for so many years.

If there is any way that I can be of service to you, I hope you will take advantage of the link below to send me an email. I would enjoy hearing from you with any comments or questions you may have.

Father Gene Hemrick
The National Institute for the Renewal of the Priesthood
Washington Theological Union
6896 Laurel Street, Northwest
Washington, D.C.

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Last updated July 30, 2014