The National Institute for the Renewal of the Priesthood

Morning has broken like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird.
Praise for the singing, Praise for the morning
Praise for them springing fresh from the world.

Sweet the rain's new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall on the first grass.
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where his feet pass.

Mine is the sunlight, Mine is the morning
Born of the one light Eden saw play.
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God's recreation of the new day. -- Eleanor Farjeon

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Sunday Sermon

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

(Please give them a moment or two to download to your PC)

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

Father Gene's thoughts on the Immaculate Conception and the Holy Family

Father Gene reflects on Chaplains and our nation's veterans on Veterans Day

Father Gene shares his thoughts about procrastination

Father Gene visits Relevant Radio to discuss the lessons learned from the events of September 11

Can something as simple as a garden make a difference in your life? -- Father Gene explains how it's done -- August 12, 2014

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

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

August 14, 2015

In this edition:
1. Annulment fees eliminated.
2. Caring for the divorced-remarried.
3. Quote: Benedict on divorced-remarried.
4. Current anti-immigrant rhetoric.
5. What "just wage" means.
6. Resource on Islam and on dialogue.
7. Bishop steps into Twitter world.
8. Explosives detonated at churches.

July 28, 2015

1. Evangelizing: No situation is Godless.
2. Catholic children and their parents.
3. Study of Catholic parents.
4. Current quotes to ponder:
a) Vatican on Iran nuclear accord.
b) On not really knowing Jesus.
c) Strength of Latin American church.
5. Reacting to same-sex marriage ruling.
6. Death penalty and Gospel of mercy.
7. Growing old in these times.

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

Here's What We're Reading!

The Catholic Guide to Dating after Divorce, Lisa Duffy

Give Us This Day Our Daily Love: Pope Francis on the Family, Compilers: Theresa Aletheia Noble

Finding True Happiness: Satisfying Our Restless Hearts, Author: Robert Spitzer, S.J.

Change and Conflict in your Congregation: How to implement conscious choices, mange emotions & build a thriving Christian community, Rev. Anita L. Bradshaw

The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic: How Engaging 1% of Catholics Could Change the World, Matthew Kelly

The Catholic Church and the Bible, Peter M.J. Stravinskas

Fly While You Still Have Wings: and other lessons my resilient mother taught me, Joyce Rupp

Catholic and Married: Leaning into Love, Art and Laraine Bennett

Created to Relate: God's Design for Peace and Joy, Kelly M. Wahlquist

It's in the News!

An Obituary for A Suicide

Ron Rolheiser

The more things change, the more they stay the same. That axiom still holds true for our understanding of suicide. Despite all the advances in our understanding, there are still a number of stigmas around suicide, one of which pertains to how we write the obituary of a loved one who dies in this way. In writing an obituary we still cannot bring ourselves to write the word, suicide: He died by his own hand. We still turn to euphemisms: He died expectantly. Her sudden death brings great sadness.

Suicide, in many cases, perhaps in most cases, is the result of a disease, the emotional and psychological equivalent of cancer, stroke, or heart attack. If that is true, and it is, why then, when I loved one dies of suicide, might we not write this kind of an obituary?

We are sad to report the death of J__ D__ who died after a long and courageous struggle with emotional cancer.

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Imaginary Friend Jesus

Published Aug 4, 2015 in Blogs, Sexuality, Spirituality
Taken from the Jesuit Post

I had been talking around it for weeks. My spiritual director, on the other hand, was ready to get to the point.

"It sounds like you just really want her," he said.

His voice lingered on the words really and want to make it clear that he was talking about sex. It's a bold move in spiritual direction to call out somebody's libido and that's exactly what he was doing. And he was right. He was right and he wasn't finished. "It sounds like you want her," he continued, "but now she's back home with her boyfriend and you're here, alone, with your imaginary friend Jesus."

I froze in a moment of bare recognition. Yup. That's exactly what it was like. I felt a mix of humility and freedom as he pulled away the cover on what had been holding me back for weeks. "You're right," I said. "That's exactly right."

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Diocesan social action directors take time to focus on 'Laudato Si''

Ed Langlois
Catholic News Service

Francis: The Environment Encyclical
Portland, Ore.

Believers cannot sit out the effort to restore creation after years of abuse, a speaker told diocesan social action directors during their annual Social Action Summer Institute. "To be at odds with creation is to be at odds with God," Dominican Sr. Kathleen McManus, associate professor of systematic theology at the University of Portland, said in a presentation to the institute's 275 participants. "And it's to be at odds with our neighbor and with our deepest selves."

Sponsored by the Roundtable Association of Catholic Diocesan Social Action Directors, the institute convened at the University of Portland July 19-23, focusing on the message of Pope Francis' encyclical on the environment

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What Should I Do with My Life?

Published Aug 5, 2015 in In the News, Spirituality
Taken from the Jesuit Post

"What are you going to do with your life?" can be a terrifying question.

One summer, while giving retreats on Ignatian spirituality, the most popular talk we gave was on Ignatius's "Rules for Discernment."1 It indicated that most of us are hungry for guidance.

I was thus not surprised that "How to Live Wisely" shot up the "most emailed" list of the New York Times. In it, a Harvard professor describes illuminating exercises that he and other faculty members have used in a noncredit seminar called "Reflecting on Your Life."

I found the exercises he describes to be practical and potentially very illuminating.

But I also found them incomplete. The practices, such as making a list of how you want to spend your time in college and comparing that with another list of how you actually spend your time, seem helpful for identifying your desires and whether you are getting closer to your goals.

The exercises, however, don't offer a clear way to evaluate whether your desires are good desires, whether you are any good at what you want to be, and whether the world actually

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Mein Gott or Mein Kampf? On Adolf Hitler and Ignatius Loyola

Published Jul 31, 2015 in Pop Culture, Spirituality
Taken from the Jesuit Post

As readers of any comment section on the Internet know, people are compared to Hitler all the time. In philosophy classes, students readily point to Hitler as the embodiment of evil - so much so, in fact, that there is a logical fallacy named after him: Reductio ad Hitlerum. Yet the astute student of history - or a bored googler - is hard pressed to find 'Adolf Hitler' and 'Ignatius Loyola' mentioned in the same sentence. The two, it seems, could not be farther from one another. And yet, I have found myself holding the two up for comparison.

Before you write to my superiors, allow me to explain.

Although their lives had radically different trajectories, there are some interesting parallels in their beginnings. Both Inigo and Adolf were born into Catholic families, but their faith was of little importance in early life (for Hitler, it was of no importance at all). Both Ignatius and Hitler served their countries in battle, and were lauded for their heroism. After defeats in battles - Ignatius in Pamplona and Hitler in the failed Beer Hall Putsch in Munich - their lives radically changed. These headstrong young men each spent nearly a year in unplanned solitude. Hitler stewed in prison for treason after the failed coup.

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The Healing Place of Silence

Ron Rolheiser

A recent book, by Robyn Cadwallander, The Anchoress, tells the story of young woman, Sarah, who chooses to shut herself off from the world and lives as an Anchoress (like Julian of Norwich). It's not an easy life and she soon finds herself struggling with her choice. Her confessor is a young, inexperienced, monk named Father Ranaulf. Their relationship isn't easy. Ranaulf is a shy man, of few words, and so Sarah is often frustrated with him, wanting him to say more, to be more empathic, and simply to be more present to her. They often argue, or, at least, Sarah tries to coax more words and sympathy out of Ranaulf. But whenever she does this he cuts short the visit and leaves.

One day, after a particularly frustrating meeting that leaves Ranaulf tongue-tied and Sarah in hot anger, Ranaulf is just about to close the shutter-window between them and leave, his normal response to tension, when something inside him stops him from leaving. He knows that he must offer Sarah something, but he has no words. And so, having nothing to say but feeling obliged to not leave, he simply sits there in silence. Paradoxically his mute helplessness achieves something that his words don't, a breakthrough. Sarah, for the first time, feels his concern and sympathy and he, for his part, finally feels present to her.

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Francis: 'Facts are more important than ideas'

Thomas Reese

Francis: The Environment Encyclical
Taken from the National Catholic Reporter

"Facts are more important than ideas" is a statement from Pope Francis that one would have never heard from Popes Benedict XVI or John Paul II.

It is not that Pope Francis is dumb or an anti-intellectual. He is well-read and thoughtful, but by no stretch of the imagination can he be called a scholar. His training as a scientist and his life experience make him approach theory in a different way than John Paul and Benedict. It also helps explain his approach to the environment in Laudato Si'. John Paul was trained first as a philosopher and then as a theologian, and as a priest, he taught ethics at a university. He wrote in a style that was not easily digested. Benedict was trained in theology and became one of the leading theologians of his generation. Both wrote scholarly books that promoted a particular perspective.

On the other hand, Francis' initial training prior to entering the seminary was as a chemist. He never finished his doctorate in theology. He is what academics refer to as ABD, "all but dissertation." He never wrote scholarly books. He was a wide-ranging consumer of theology, not the proponent of a particular view.

For John Paul the philosopher and Benedict the theologian

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Children of Both Heaven and Earth

Ron Rolheiser

"Because, my God, though I lack the soul-zeal and the sublime integrity of your saints, I yet have received from you an overwhelming sympathy for all that stirs within the dark mass of matter; because I know myself to be irremediably less a child of heaven and a son of earth."

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin wrote those words and they, like St. Augustine's famous opening in his Confessions, not only describe a life-long tension inside its author, they name as well the foundational pieces for an entire spirituality. For everyone who is emotionally healthy and honest, there will be a life-long tension between the seductive attractions of this world and the lure of God. The earth, with its beauties, its pleasures, and its physicality can take our breath away and have us believe that this world is all there is, and that this world is all that needs to be. Who needs anything further? Isn't life here on earth enough? Besides, what proof is there for any reality and meaning beyond our lives here?

But even as we are so powerfully, and rightly, drawn to the world and what if offers, another part of us finds itself also caught in the embrace and the grip of another reality, the divine, which though more inchoate is not-less unrelenting. It too tells us that it is real, that its reality ultimately offers life, that it also should be honored, and that it also may not be ignored. And, just like the

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Editorial: Pope Francis' exhortation to walk on the margins makes us squirm

NCR Editorial Staff | Jul. 27, 2015


In the growing corpus of Pope Francis pronouncements -- in homilies and speeches and encyclicals -- an eloquence adheres that might safely be characterized as singular in quality in the long history of papal literature. It is an eloquence eminently accessible, born of personal experience and shaped primarily by his love of the poor.

It is not a distant love or a romanticized notion out of which he speaks. He doesn't make heroes of poor people or conjure some noble purpose out of poverty that will somehow be fully realized in the next life.

Quite the opposite. Transcendence is not reserved for some other reality. For Francis, the Christ we worship in the quiet of the sanctuary is the Christ of the streets. Francis is about real here-and-now situations in very plain language, and that language at times is disarmingly undiplomatic.

Indeed, in the United States, the eloquence is difficult to discern. The words make us squirm.

During his speech in Bolivia to members of popular movements, he said: "When we look into the eyes of the suffering, when we see the faces of the endangered campesino, the poor laborer, the downtrodden native, the

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Transforming a Crisis into Hope

Published Jul 16, 2015 in In the News, Pope Francis

As the crisis over debt in Greece comes to a head, Pope Francis' address to the Second World Meeting of Popular Movements could not be more relevant. His comments are a reminder that there is "a globalization of exclusion and indifference" that can lead to despair, but can also give way to a globalization of hope. It is a reminder that any Christian approach to change must be focused on real people. But what does this have to do with Greece?

The Pope firsts asks that we always listen to the people affected when considering how to resolve the many issues facing our world. In a world where the majority of the news we get is sprinkled with figures and dollar signs, Francis' call to listen to the experiences of real people challenges us to dig deeper. This great article in the Guardian outlines all of the reasons why so many young Greeks voted against bailout terms and highlights the pain felt by so many people affected by the proposed austerity measures. One young Greek voter said of the current state of affairs, "This situation was caused by the administration mechanisms in Europe who favour finances and not humans." That sounds just like Pope Francis! "The first task is to put the economy at the service of peoples. Human beings and nature must not be at the service of money." Both the experience of the Greek people and the words of Pope Francis call us to move toward an

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The pope and poverty

Phyllis Zagano

Taken from The National Catholic Reporter

Looks like the Pope Francis Fan Club is losing membership. At least that's what the Gallup Poll folks are saying.

You had to know it wouldn't last. All that care for the poor business had to be getting on folks’ nerves. You see, most of the people who hear what Francis says are rich.

The poor are not wired. The poor do not have smart phones and computers. The poor do not have televisions or radios. The poor do not have books or newspapers.

Oh, you say, there are poor folks on my block and they have cell phones and computers and TV and radio and books and newspapers.

Wrong. The deeply poor do not live in neighborhoods. They are not "down the block." They are in tin shacks, in huts, even caves. They are in lean-tos against abandoned buildings. If they can find them, they scrounge garbage mountains for things they need: clothing, furniture, and sometimes food. They hunt or fish or grow their sustenance. They fashion what they can from what is around them. In the country they have wood and stones and dirt. In the city they have the detritus of the rich (or at least of the richer), the droppings of plastic and resin the modern age uses to replace wood and stone.

So, when Francis talks about

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Philippine church takes lead on Francis' environmental encyclical

Brian Roewe | Jul. 25, 2015 Eco Catholic

Francis: The Environment Encyclical
Taken from the National Catholic Reporter

One of the nations most vulnerable to climate change has become one of the first to mobilize in response to Pope Francis' environmental encyclical "Laudato Si', on Care for Our Common Home."

On July 4, Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila, Philippines, along with more than 1,000 priests, religious and lay leaders, launched a campaign in the archdiocese to collect 1 million signatures on a global petition to be delivered to world leaders gathering in Paris in December.

In addition, the archipelago's bishops have pledged to lead conversations and actions around issues raised in the encyclical and likely to arise at the Paris climate talks. The petition is part of a campaign began in March [1] by the Global Catholic Climate Movement. Two months later, several members met with the pope, who endorsed their efforts [2]. As of Wednesday, more than 31,000 people had signed the petition.

"This will be huge. When Filipinos commit to mobilize, they really mean it," said Lou Arsenio, coordinator of the Manila archdiocese's ecology ministry, a founding Global Catholic Climate Movement organization. She described the ecological crisis as a top issue

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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.

Dedicated to energizing the spiritual and intellectual life of the priesthood
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Last updated August 14, 2015