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The National Institute for the Renewal of the Priesthood

Storm on the Sea of Galilee

"Hope Awakens" (1926) by Eero Jarnefelt (1863-1937).
The Altarpiece of Raahe Church, Finland [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Sunday Sermon

Click here to visit our new page of Sunday Sermons and hear the latest from Saint Vincent's

Fr. Gene reflects on virtuous communication, Pope Francis and the Year of Mercy

Fr Gene Reflects on keeping families healthy, happy and holy

November 12 -- Fr Gene with an Advent "Pre-View"

October 12 -- Fr Gene's reflections on the environment and ecology and our place in the whole puzzle of God's green earth

August 11 -- Fr Gene talks about the Pope's latest encyclical and reflects on his upcoming visit and his thoughts on ecology and the environment

June 8 -- Fr Gene reflects on his days in the Seminary

Father Gene reflects on the missionaries who came to this country, their courage and their commitment to the faith

Father Gene shares his thoughts about an amazing exhibit called "Picturing Mary: Woman, Mother, Idea" and highly recommends it

New Year's Resolutions from a different perspective

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

May 27, 2016

In this edition:
1. Beyond the blogosphere.
2. Anger in the blogosphere.
3. Civility and political discourse.
4. Current quotes to ponder:
a) Tip for praying.
b) Understanding human unity.
c) Caring for the mentally ill.
5. New dreams for new priests.
6. A grand imam meets the pope.

May 14, 2016

In this edition:
1. The mandate of baptism.
2. What about clericalism?
3. The laity and public life.
4. A notable quote from pope's letter.
5. Current quotes to ponder:
a) When matters are complex.
b) Scandal of human trafficking.
6. Local synod on "The Joy of Love."

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

Here's What We're Reading!

Messy & Foolish: How to Make a Mess, Be a Fool, and Evangelize the World, Matthew Warner

Transformed by God's Word: Discovering the Power of Lectio and Visio Divina, Author: Stephen J. Binz

Joy to the World: How Christ's Coming Changed Everything (and still does), Author: Scott Hahn

Freedom, Truth, and Human Dignity

John of the Cross: Man and Mystic, Author: Richard P. Hardy

We Have Found Mercy: The Mystery of God's Merciful Love Christoph Cardinal Schonborn

It's in the News!

Fight Your Own Battles

Do Not Wait For Leaders, Do It Alone Person To Person - Mother Teresa

A stinging lesson I learned as a child was never to expect sympathy from my parents after being beaten up in a fight. I can still hear the admonition, "Fight your own battles, learn to stand on your own two feet, and remember God helps those who help themselves."

Today this advice may sound out of place with so many news reports of innocent children being harmed. When the principle "fight your own battles" is taken narrowly it can be out of place. Taken in a broader sense, however, it contains valuable principles in an age desiring to make true progress. The broader sense of which I speak is developing healthy self-confidence, sturdy self-reliance and resourcefulness: principles that are imperative for achieving real human progress!

What is progress and the lessons it teaches us?

In his book Power and Responsibility, Romano Guardini points to normal ways we think of progress: "human life and health better protected; people working less; the living standard improving, and increased security."

But is this real progress

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The Facts About Immigration

By Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio

My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,

The current politicization of the issue of undocumented workers in our country is truly unfortunate. It is a social problem that demands our attention and one that needs a solution, but not an issue that can be solved without addressing the racist and xenophobic tendencies that lay below the veneer of even just societies.

My approach will not be a religious one, although certainly Scripture gives us much to think about when it comes to treating the alien workers in our midst. The Book of Deuteronomy makes it clear to the Israelites that they should not abuse the alien workers and that they should leave a portion of the harvest for those workers, reminding them that they, themselves, in prior centuries had been aliens in the land of Egypt.

I base this defense of immigrant workers on past research and present analysis of this issue that comes from understanding the labor shortages which our Nation experiences in various sectors; for example, in agriculture, construction and the service industries. Honest workers deserve to be defended

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Kurisumala made it clear I couldn't walk away

Paul Wilkes | May. 18, 2016

Taken from The National Catholic Reporter

Ten years ago, I traveled high into the Sahya Mountains in South India to pay a visit to the Trappist monastery of Kurisumala. Here, on the Mountain of the Cross, the visitor can experience the rich Syro-Malankara rite, based in Aramaic, the language very close to that which Christ would have spoken.

Upon my return, the monks invited me to tell them at satsang -- their nightly time of reflection and sharing of experiences -- what had transpired in those years, as they knew that India had captured me.

We gathered in the small, book-lined bedroom and office of the abbot, Fr. Ishananda Machiyanickal, a self-effacing, gentle man who that morning had taken me to see the community's huge herd of prize Holstein cows and walked me around the premises as if he had nothing else to do. Ah, Trappist hospitality.

The community then numbered 17 and they sat barefooted and cross-legged on the floor as this Westerner, whose joints are not so amenable, sat on a small

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Who Would I Be?

Taken from The Jesuit Post

Driving in the car not long ago, I discovered a clutch radio station, 96.5, KOIT. Passing mile marker after mile marker on a long drive, or sitting in traffic following an airport run for a member of my community, I find solace in KOIT and in their 'non-stop workday' playlist - Better music for a better workday. The long stream of tunes they have on air between commercials is all familiar; like, really familiar - I know practically every song by heart.

So I do what anyone else would do when I hear the familiar downbeat - I sing. Loudly. Confidently. Enthusiastically.

My novice classmates called me Jukebox for a brief spell because of my penchant for song lyrics. I've never really had a nickname in my life; they never seem to stick. But it seemed to them that I could intone any song, any time, any where. It seems that way to me, too - I'm a pretty sick karaoke artist.

It's not only when I'm listening to the radio, but even in passing or casual conversation because it only takes a single reference or word to spark a song in me, and the connections are, at times, not apparent to the untrained (read: not me) mind.

"Wow! Not a cloud in the sky!"

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Statement guides me on my mission

Mariam Williams At the Intersection

Published in the National Catholic Reporter

"Only what you do for Christ will last."

It's not biblical, but this concept I learned during sermons and bible studies in adulthood aligned with Scripture.

"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness;" [1]

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters. . . . . " [2]

Don't be like the people who "love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others." [3]

"These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me." [4]

"You have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much;" [5]

"Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." [6]

"Only what you do for Christ will last" served as a motivation

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On Command

By Fr. Romano Guardini

This man knows how to command as well as how to obey.

He respects discipline not as a passive, blind "being integrated into" a system, but the responsible discipline which stems from his own conscience and personal honor.

Here is the prerequisite for the greatest task he faces: that of establishing an authority which respects human dignity, of creating a social order in which the person can exist.

The ability to command and to obey has been lost in the degree that faith and doctrine have disappeared from man's consciousness.

As a result, in the place of unconditional truth, we have catchwords: instead of command, compulsion, instead of obedience; self-abandonment. What real command and real obedience are must be rediscovered.

This is possible only when absolute sovereignty is recognized, absolute values are accepted; in other words, when God is acknowledged as the living norm and point of reference for all existence. Ultimately, one can command only from God, obey only in him. [i]

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The Field Hospital: Covering parish life

Dan Morris-Young | May. 13, 2016 NCR Today

The Field Hospital

Editor's note: "The Field Hospital" blog series covers life in U.S. and Canadian Catholic parishes. The title comes from Pope Francis' words: "I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. . . ."

If you have a story suggestion, send it to Dan Morris-Young (dmyoung@ncronline.org) or Peter Feuerherd (pfeuerherd@ncronline.org).

Amid pervasive reports of Catholic church closings and consolidations across the country, St. Mary of the Lake Parish in Gary, Ind., has been able to stem the tide of imminent closing through efforts that some call miraculous [1].

One key element has been the active support of the Gary diocese's recently retired Bishop Dale Melczek (often addressed as "Bishop Dale"). He "not only joyfully volunteered to return to active ministry to pastor us but personally visited the homes of all the registered members of the parish and inspired parishioners

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Youth Today -- Who are They Really?

Ron Rolheiser

A seminarian I know recently went to a party on a Friday evening at a local university campus. The group was a crowd of young, college students and when he was introduced as a seminarian, as someone who was trying to become a priest and who had taken a vow of celibacy, the mention of celibacy evoked some giggles in the room, some banter, and a number of jokes about how much he must be missing out on in life. Poor, naive fellow! Initially, within this group of millenniums, his religious beliefs and what this had led to in his life was regarded as something between amusing and pitiful. But, before the evening was out, several young women had come, cried on his shoulder, and shared about their frustration with their boyfriends' inability to commit fully to their relationship.

This incident might serve as a parable describing today's young people in our secularized world. They exhibit what might aptly be called a bi-polar character about faith, church, family, sexual ethos, and many other things that are important to them.

They present an inconsistent picture: On the one hand, by and large, they are not going to church, at least with any

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On the Meaning of Old Age

By Fr. Romano Guardini

What . . . is the meaning of old age? This can best be determined by proceeding from the most important element in the preceding period -- the experience of reality. In old age something special happens to reality. Its hardness is softened by the experience of transitoriness. Persons who once seemed indispensable die. One after another disappears -- parents, teachers, one time superiors first, contemporaries next. One has the feeling that a former generation has come to an end and that the following, one's own, is beginning to crumble. Many enterprises one has seen collapse, many organizations break down. One has lived to see the end of trends and fashions and standards of values. Concepts of what is right and fitting that had appeared unshakable and part of existence have lost their validity. These impressions will be particularly strong in a period of historic upheaval, all the more so if the formative years belonged to the period preceding revolutionary change. Reality then becomes questionable -- not as in youth, when time seems endless, but rather because now reality has been found not to be as real as it appeared in the realistic period of mature life. The view of things widens out. Under pressure of reality, a person was

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I Am Not Jesus

Published May 10, 2016 in Blogs, MAG+S & WYD, Spirituality

Taken from The Jesuit Post

To stop the storm...to walk on water.

I was herded through security like an animal, and eventually entered the harsh, grey jail.

I picked up a list of detainees and made my way to them, visiting people who were locked up and seeking something. This particular night was fairly normal (or, as normal as talking about God in a jail could be), when a guard I had become familiar with asked me to come with him to the first floor. I had never been to the first floor before; it was generally off-limits for chaplains, a place they reserved for people suffering from mental illness and addictions.

I was led into a small, cinder block interview room and told to wait. Before long, a man was escorted in by two officers, tears streaming down his face, an incessant sound of rumbling behind his closed lips, a green kevlar body suit wrapped around him with his hands secured behind his back. He was naked underneath.

The officers left us alone, and this man in kevlar began asking questions immediately.

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I saw what the church can be, during a huge parish hall party

Mike Jordan Laskey

Young Voices
Taken from the National Catholic Reporter

On a lazy afternoon recently, I Googled "countries of Africa quiz" and found a nice and simple one [1]. A green, unmarked map of the continent filled the screen, and I was instructed to click on a particular country. Get it right and the country would snap from green to white.

There are 50 countries on the quiz, and my first time through it, I got all 50 right. One hundred percent, an easy A+, in just over two minutes.

How did I do it? Had my obsessive childhood viewing of the PBS geography game show "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?" [2] paid off? No, not at all. I cheated. Blatantly. See, I had opened up another Chrome browser tab next to the quiz and pulled up a labeled map of Africa. So when the quiz told me to click on Angola, it didn't take long to toggle to the other tab, find Angola, return to the quiz, and get the answer right.

I told myself this method would help me learn the map faster. But, truthfully, I did it because I didn't want to see how badly I'd do on my own. After a few days

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Believing in God with her whole household

Irene Zarate Rivera | May. 19, 2016 NCR Today

The Field Hospital
Taken from National Catholic Reporter

One Catholic family is "living what we're being called to do" by sharing the safety and spaciousness of their home in Portland, Ore., with those needing a place to stay. The spare bedroom in the Burt household, called the Christ Room, has been occupied by a German au pair named Ines and a Portland medical student named Anastasia, among others. For the past nine months, the room has been home to Yaser Aburamadan, a 16-year-old Muslim student from Gaza.

Raised in a Catholic household in Louisiana by her multilingual father and mother, Claire Burt says that because of her father's language skills, and her parents' kind hearts, her family would often host out-of-towners in their home. As an adult, Claire adopted this practice of hospitality in her own home.

However, it was only after meeting Mufti McNassar, the founder of the first Catholic Worker home in Portland, that Claire decided to name her family's guest room the Christ Room. Claire was participating in the Just Faith program at her church, St. Ignatius Parish,

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Archbishop Cupich joins Austin parish in efforts to promote neighborhood peace

By Joyce Duriga

Deacon William Pouncy encourages cars passing by to "Honk for Jesus" outside St. Martin de Porres church on May 1. Archbishop Cupich was the main celebrant during a Unity Mass at St. Martin de Porres Parish in Chicago on May 1. At the end of Mass, parishioners stepped outside the doors of the church to visibly stand up for peace and an end to the violence that has impacted the Austin and West Garfield Park communities, as well as the entire City of Chicago. (Karen Callaway/Catholic New World)

The city of Chicago's Austin neighborhood tops a list that its residents would rather not be on.

"As of April 25, the Austin community -- our community, our immediate community -- led Chicago in 23 homicides and 101 people being shot. This is insane. This is wrong," Father Tom Walsh, pastor of St. Martin de Porres Parish told those gathered for Mass May 1 celebrated by Archbishop

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The Ten Commandments of Mercy

May 9, 2016
Ron Rolheiser

Among the Ten Commandments, one begins with the word "remember": Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day". It reminds us to recall something we already know. There are commandments of mercy written into our very DNA. We already know them, but we need to remember them more explicitly. What are they?

The Ten Commandments of Mercy:

1. Remember that mercy lies deepest in God's heart.

Few things so much approximate the essence of God as does mercy. Mercy is God's essence. Scripture uses words such as loving-kindness and compassion to try to define what constitutes God's mercy, but the central biblical concept, captured in the Hebrew concept of hesed, connotes a relationship that loves, embraces, and forgives even when, and especially when, we cannot measure up or deserve what's given us.

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Women Deacons Discussed

Taken from Whispers in the Loggia

Weeks after closing out one years-long process that served to convulse much of the Catholic conversation, the Pope has opened the door to another live-wire discussion: at a Q&A yesterday with some 900 members of the Union of International Superiors General - the umbrella-group for the leaders of women religious orders worldwide - Francis accepted a sister's proposal for a commission which would study and "clarify" the history of women's service in diaconal roles in the church.

Even as the hours since have made for an Olympic-grade onslaught of Rohrshach tests reflecting the many reactions to the charged question, the only clear thing at this point is that there'll be a commission. To use a similar example, given the labyrinthine path of Papa Bergoglio's Curial reform task-force - now in its fourth year, a far "easier" work than a diaconal commission would face - no one should be holding their breath on a result for either

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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 May 18, 2016