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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 15, 2017

In this edition:
1. The cancer of corruption.
2. Eradicating human trafficking.
3. Rhetoric of contempt.
4. Faith and a changed public square.
5. Public discourse: two-way street.
6. Current quotes to ponder:
a) Reaching the wounded
b) Health care in America.
7. Finding the sacred in the ordinary.




April 28, 2017

In this edition:
1. The pope visits Egypt.
2. A dialogue for peace.
3. Listening, key to dialogue.
4. Christians and Muslims after 2035.
5. Current quotes to ponder:
a) Syria today.
b) The opioid crisis.
6. How Easter counteracts pessimism.
7. Fear's grip on immigration debate.























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Here's What We're Reading!

Always Discerning: An Ignatian Spirituality for the New Millennium, Joseph A. Tetlow

Sacred Stress: A radically different approach to using life's challenges for positive change, George R. Faller, MS, LMFT and Rev. Dr. Heather Wright

Liturgy and Personality, Dietrich von Hildebrand

Vesper Time: The Spiritual Practice of Growing Older, Frank J. Cunningham

Spring: Meditations, Author: John Bartunek

With the Smell of the Sheep: The Pope speaks to priests, bishops, and other shepherds, Editor: Giuseppe Merola

It's in the News!

What will happen at the Vatican when Trump meets Pope Francis?

Joshua J. McElwee | May. 22, 2017


Trump Abroad
Analysis Vatican City


Papal visits with heads of state are carefully arranged bits of political and religious theater. They follow a specific and routine schedule, with little room for deviation or unwanted surprises.

While the royalty, president or prime minister making the trip to the Vatican may fret the details, sending teams months in advance to plan out each moment, the city-state's objectives are clear: protect the pope's image and influence, and then fade into the background to let the pope handle the meeting as he wants.

As Ken Hackett, the most recent U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, said in a recent interview: "From the Vatican's point of view, it's pretty normal fare for them to deal with heads of state. They've been doing it for centuries. They know exactly what they will do and can do."

When U.S. President Donald Trump arrives to meet Pope Francis on the morning of May 24, he will be escorted through a series of rooms in the apostolic palace meant to impress upon him the Vatican's historic power and majesty. As he walks, he will pass Swiss Guards in full regalia, standing at attention holding long pole weapons known as halberds.

One of the last rooms the president will enter before meeting the pope is the Sala Ambrogio, named for the third century saint and bishop, and distinctive for its decorate Renaissance-era triptych of Christ's death and resurrection and for containing a large rug decorated with the coat of arms of Pope Leo XIII.

Francis and Trump will meet first briefly in the antechamber of the papal library, where the pope hosts all his formal encounters with heads of state. The two will shake hands there, where a small pool of about five photographers and two print journalists may be able to hear their first words to each other.

Francis will then escort Trump into the library itself, where the two will sit at a large wooden desk across from each other. The journalists are allowed to remain present for the very beginning of the encounter,



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Opioid crisis: Seeking help for pastoral response

Peter Feuerherd | May. 18, 2017 NCR Today Taken from The National Catholic Reporter


The Field Hospital

Fr. Frank Almade, pastor of four churches in New Castle, Pennsylvania, presides over more than what might seem like his share of funerals.

He's pastored for the past five years in the old manufacturing town, long in decline, located about an hour's drive from Pittsburgh. For much of his early years in New Castle, funerals marked the end of the line for old-timers, some of whom were close to the century mark.

Almade noticed something different in the past year. He led funerals for five men, in their 30s and 40s. Families were tight-lipped about the cause of their deaths.

"There's something going on here," Almade thought to himself. And, as the funerals continued, he heard the whispers. These men were not dying of natural causes. The national opioid abuse crisis had arrived in Almade's small western Pennsylvania town.

New Castle, near the highway connections uniting Pittsburgh, Cleveland and, points east, Philadelphia, Washington and Baltimore, is a way station to other, larger drug markets. According to the New York Times [1], deaths from opioid overdose in the United States now exceeds 50,000 per year, more than those attributed to gun homicide and car accidents combined. New Castle is not alone: drug abuse affects rich and poor of all races and backgrounds. It has hit particularly hard in New England, New Jersey, Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

"I felt powerless as to what to do about this," said Almade. Months into his realization, Almade has no easy answers, but is seeking them out. What he's found out is that he is not alone.

He brought up the topic at a recent priest conference for the diocese. Afterwards, seven of his fellow clergy recounted similar experiences. Pastors are recognizing the problem but have few resources.

Almade, who formerly worked in the social concerns secretariat for the diocese, sees connections between this new crisis and the older economic crisis afflicting New Castle and other similar



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When Does Faith Disappear?

Ron Rolheiser


When Friedrich Nietzsche declared that "God is dead" he added a question: What kind of a sponge does it take to wipe away a whole horizon?

I often ask that question because just in my own lifetime there has been an unprecedented decline in the number of people who go to church regularly and, more recently, an equally unprecedented spike in the number of people who claim to have lost their faith completely and are now classified under a religious category called, "None".

This latter group (persons who when asked about their religious affiliation on a census form answer with the word, None) has essentially doubled in the last twenty years and today in Canada and the USA make up over 30% of the population. The numbers are much the same for Western Europe and other secularized parts of the world.

But have these individuals really lost their faith? When they use the word "None" to refer to their religious beliefs they generally explain that with phrases to this effect: I just no longer believe! It doesn't make sense to me anymore! I've lost faith in religion and the church! I can't pretend any longer! I've lost my faith in those beliefs! I'm not sure whether or not I believe in God!

What's common among all these phrases is the concept of "believing" or "belief": "I just don't believe it anymore!" But is ceasing to believe in something the same thing as losing one's faith? Not necessarily. It can be one thing to no longer believe in something, but it can be something quite different to lose one's faith. To cease believing in a set of faith propositions doesn't necessarily equate with losing one's faith. Indeed, the loss of one's belief system is often the condition for a purified faith.

How is belief different from faith? In normal, everyday parlance to say that we believe something to be true means that we are able to square that truth with our imagination, that is, we are able to somehow circumscribe it imaginatively so that it makes sense to us. Conversely, if we cannot picture how something might make sense then it is a short step to say that it isn't true. Our beliefs are predicated on what we can square with our imagination and our thinking.



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The pain of mental illness and the grace of Catholic faith

Hannah Wingett | May. 16, 2017 Soul Seeing

Taken from The National Catholic Reporter NCR

My brain is on fire. When tolerable, the fire is centralized in the front half of my skull, above and sometimes behind my eyes. When intolerable, the fire spreads, settling in a cloud from ear to ear above my spinal cord. The natural response is to cry, but crying somehow makes the pain even worse.

In January 2014, I spoke to a friend who had recently pursued psychiatric treatment. I had experienced intense stress, sadness and worry for at least five years, but I didn't know that was abnormal. In this conversation, I expressed sympathy for my friend's struggles; she looked at me, shocked, and responded, "Hannah, I knew you had a problem with anxiety before I knew I had a problem with anxiety."

After agonizing over this conversation for a few weeks, I began pursuing treatment, but as long as I framed the issue as emotions and stress and anxiety, I could not find help. People told me that I just needed to manage my time better, I just needed to sleep more -- I just needed to do more, to be more, they thought. My experience was completely ignored; my parents and my doctors saw my symptoms and assigned their interpretations.

In May 2014, I cried 20 of the 31 days in the month. I felt constantly nauseous and began


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Emma Watson, 'The Circle,' and Satire Gone Awry

Published May 8, 2017 in Film, Pop Culture, Science & Technology

Taken from The Jesuit Post

STX Entertainment/Released


Too Fast for the Satire, and Too Slow for a Movie:

I stand firmly by the theory that the book is always better -- and that certainly is true in the case of The Circle. Not even the combined talents of Tom Hanks and Emma Watson could save its fundamental flaw: Dave Eggers's The Circle is too subtle a satire/thriller for film.1

The narrative begins with Emma Watson's Mae starting a job at a tech company. She immediately faces questions about her privacy and participation in technology. The progression of questions driving the novel and the film are the same, but they land differently:

Should Mae want to be socially engaged in her work? Of course! Should she 'like', click, and support her colleagues? Of course!

Wouldn't it be helpful if our preferences were all recorded -- that way we wouldn't have weird or offensive advertisements wasting our time? Yeah. Wouldn't it be helpful if our tastes, foods, and physical activity were monitored so that we could be healthy? Sure, why not.

Wouldn't it be helpful to have cameras in your parent's house to visit with them even when you're busy -- or what if you had



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Coming Full Circle -- From Storybooks to Spirituality

Ron Rolheiser

My first love was literature, novels and poetry. As a child, I loved storybooks, mysteries and adventures. In grade school, I was made to memorize poetry and loved the exercise. High School introduced me to more serious literature, Shakespeare, Kipling, Keats, Wordsworth, Browning. On the side, I still read storybooks, cowboy tales from the old West, taken from my dad's bookshelf.

During my undergraduate university years, literature was a major part of the curriculum and I learned then that literature wasn't just about stories, but also about social and religious commentary; as well as about form and beauty as ends in themselves. In classes then we read classic novels: Nineteen Eighty-Four, Lord of the Flies, Heart of Darkness, The Heart of the Matter, East of Eden. The curriculum at that that time in Canada heavily favored British writers. Only later, on my own, would I discover the richness in Canadian, USA, African, Indian, Russian, and Swedish writers. I had been solidly catechized in my youth and, while the catechism held my faith, literature held my theology.

But after literature came philosophy. As part of preparation for ordination we were required to do a degree in Philosophy. I was blessed with some fine teachers and fell into first fervor in terms of my love of philosophy. The courses then heavily favored Scholasticism (Aristotle, Plato, Augustine, Aquinas) but we were also



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Published May 10, 2017 in Faith & Politics, In the News, Pope Francis
Taken from The Jesuit Post


Ma'alesh, translated to "it's not so bad," is used often in colloquial Arabic in Egypt. For all the troubles and resulting cynicism that may plague their lives, Egyptians attempt, at least in their vocabulary, to be optimistic.

But ma'alesh is a word that probably hasn't been heard much in Coptic circles these past few weeks. On Palm Sunday, April 9th, ISIS brutally bombed two Coptic Orthodox places of worship, a cathedral in Alexandria, and a church in Tanta. 49 people were killed.

I vividly remember the shock and horror that I felt as I woke up that Sunday: most of my extended family lives in Egypt, and some of them are Coptic Orthodox. Of course, I had experienced that mix of disgust, rage, and heartache when reading about previous terrorist attacks, but this time around, I worried immediately that some of my relatives were directly affected. Thankfully, all of them had been spared. Even still, I continue to fret about what daily life must be like for my family and for the 9 million Christians who live in Egypt. If one can't feel safe in a church of all places, then is there really any sense of security at all?

While there's no quick solution to this situation, I was encouraged to see Pope Francis visit Egypt just 20 days after the bombings. In his poignant homily, the pontiff first grieved over the immense loss of lives, then transitioned to faith's role in these senseless acts. "True faith," he proclaimed, "spurs us on to spread, defend and live out



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Despair as Weakness Rather than Sin

By Ron Rolheiser

Classically, both in the world and in our churches, we have seen despair as the ultimate, unforgivable sin. The simple notion was that neither God, nor anyone else, can save you if you simply give up, despair, make yourself impossible to reach. Most often in the popular mind this was applied to suicide. To die by your own hand was seen as despair, as putting yourself outside of God's mercy.

But understanding despair in this way is wrong and misguided, however sincere our intent. What's despair? How might it be understood?

The common dictionary definition invariably runs something like this: Despair means to no longer have any hope or belief that a situation will improve or change. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which sees despair as a sin against the First Commandment, defines it this way: "By despair, man ceases to hope for his personal salvation from God, for help in attaining it or for the forgiveness of his sins. Despair is contrary to God's goodness, to his justice -- for the Lord is faithful to his promises -- and to his mercy."

But there's something absolutely critical to be distinguished here: There are two reasons why someone might cease to hope for personal salvation from God and give up hope in having his or sins forgiven. It can be that the person doubts the goodness and mercy of God or, and I believe that this is normally the case, the person is too crushed, too weak, too broken inside, to believe that he or she is lovable and redeemable. But being so beaten and crushed in spirit so as to believe that nothing further



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Activist wants NYC's shuttered churches put to use

Peter Feuerherd | May. 4, 2017 NCR Today

Taken from the National Catholic Reporter
The Field Hospital
New York


Like his nemesis Donald Trump, Felix Cepeda knows something about Manhattan real estate.

Location, location, location. That's the mantra of real estate. And it's what now-closed properties in the New York Archdiocese offer in abundance. One such property is Our Lady of the Scapular/St. Stephen Church on East 28th Street, between Lexington and Third Avenue.

Cepeda, looking younger than his 36 years, clad in baseball cap and T-shirt, took a walk around the church one recent sunswept April afternoon. The church, like many Catholic churches in Manhattan, sits unobtrusively on a side street. That is until a passerby notices a mini-Romanesque style structure rising amid nondescript storefronts and high-priced modern apartments.

"We are sitting on this treasure," Cepeda sighs. "It's a crime."

The "we," in Cepeda's terms, is the archdiocese. As a Catholic Worker and former Jesuit brother in the Dominican Republic, he is imbued with the Vatican II sense that the church is the people of God. Raised in the Bronx in a Dominican immigrant family, Cepeda lived in his familial homeland, serving as a Jesuit brother until it was suggested he leave the community because of problems living obedience (Cepeda readily agreed with that assessment).


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Planes or Open Plains? My 7-hour Life Lesson on a Bus


Taken from the Jesuit Post

There's been much in the news lately about tense confrontations between airline passengers and the flight attendants doing their best to manage large crowds in narrow spaces. But once in the air, I can enjoy looking out an airplane window, seeing the clouds and landscapes passing by underneath -- it is a rarified feeling. I also prefer flying because it is much faster than road travel. A long bus ride is just that -- long.

But a recent bus trip was much simpler than most of my plane trips. There wasn't online check-in 24 hours ahead. No security line. I got to kept my shoes on. No worry about getting space in the overhead bin near my seat. No risk of being dragged off the plane. The trade off, though was I had seven long hours to kill.

Sounds like fun, right?

Seven hours is a long time. But there remains a nostalgia for bus travel. My mind conjures up images from the movies. Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Ghost World, The Graduate and The Fugitive or The Shawshank Redemption. All have scenes of buses traveling. They evoke a sense of freedom, longing, uncertainty, even danger.

The reality, I learned on my trip, is not nearly as dramatic as that. Just ordinary people on a bus. Before all else, bus travel is egalitarian. There is no first class or business class on



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An Extraordinary Book

Ron Rolheiser


Dorothy Day is alleged to have said: Don't call me a saint; I don't want to be dismissed that easily! A new biography on her by her granddaughter, Kate Hennessy, Dorothy Day -- The World will be saved by Beauty: An Intimate Portrait of my Grandmother, will, I believe, go a long way in preventing anyone from turning Dorothy Day, soon to officially canonized by the church, into what she feared, a plaster-saint who can be piously doted-upon and then not taken seriously.

We're all, I'm sure, familiar with who Dorothy Day was and what her life's work was about. Indeed, Pope Francis in addressing the US Congress, singled out four Americans who, he suggests, connected spirituality to a life of service in an extraordinary way: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Thomas Merton, and Dorothy Day. This new biography gives us an honest picture of who this remarkable woman actually was.

This book is extraordinary for a number of reasons: Kate Hennessy is a very good writer, the book is the product of years of research, she's Dorothy's granddaughter and had a very close and special relationship with her, and she manages in telling Dorothy's story to keep both a healthy critical and aesthetic distance. Her insight is both privileged and rare, privileged because of her intimate relationship with Dorothy and rare because most authors who are that intimately



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Offering a 'Welcome Home'

Taken from The Jesuit Post

After college I moved to Louisville to attend law school.

With time, I would eventually find a wonderful group of friends.

And with time, I'd be able to navigate the city rather than continually rely upon Garmin's directions.

And, true, eventually with time I'd fall in love with the city's quirky character and charm.

When I first arrived though, it was far from my home.

***

One of my first Sundays in town, I walked to the church at edge of my street. From my apartment balcony, I could see its towering spires. Daily, I could hear its bells chiming. The church stood before me, a baroque edifice of grey stone decorated with flourishes and statues. I had five minutes until the start of Mass, but I was surprised to see an empty parking lot. Perhaps everyone walks to Mass?

The stone steps, aged and buckling, were uneven as I climbed to the front door of the church. The door towered over me as my hand gripped the handle. Locked? I tried the other door, also locked.

Three minutes till Mass. I looked at the sign in front of the church which listed the mass times. I looked down at my watch, confused. Where was



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Becoming A Holy Beggar

April 24, 2017
Ron Rolheisser

With the exception of scripture and a few Christian mystics, Christian spirituality, up to now, has been weak in presenting us with a vision for our retirement years. It's not a mystery as to why. Until recently, the majority of people died shortly after retirement and so there was no need for a highly developed spirituality of generativity after our active years.

What are our retirement years meant for, spiritually? What's our vocation then? What might generativity mean for us, after our work's been done?

Henri Nouwen, one of the first contemporary writers to take up this question, makes this suggestion: There comes a time in our lives when the question is no longer: What can I still do to make a contribution? Rather the question becomes: How can I live now so that my aging and dying will be my final great gift to my family, my community, my church, and my country?

How do I stop writing my resume in order to begin writing my eulogy? Happily, spiritual writers today are beginning to develop a spirituality around these questions and, in doing that, I believe, we can be helped by some rich insights within Hindu spirituality.

In Hinduism, life is understood to have five natural stages: First, you are a Child. As a Child, you are initiated into life, you learn to speak, you learn how to interact with others, and are given time for play.

The second stage is that of being a Student. In Hinduism, you're a Student until you get married



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Pope Francis: The World is Not Round

Published Apr 24, 2017
in Faith & Politics, Global Catholicism, Spirituality

Taken from The Jesuit Post

Globalization has drawn a wide range of cultures into encounter with one another. While this process of globalization affects everyone, it particularly challenges Catholics as they struggle to reconcile this reality into their faith lives. How do such culturally diverse groups of people ascribe to this one, universal Church? Pope Francis provides an image of two contrasting geometric figures to aid in rethinking how we encounter the multicultural Church. It is an image, moreover, from which any person of good will can benefit.

At General Congregation 36, a world-wide meeting of Jesuits, when asked about his thoughts on the effects of globalization and the problems of colonization, Pope Francis spoke about the danger of conceiving this process as a "sphere," that is, as a process of standardization. This standardizing process seeks to impose a single world-view, a homogenous vision for society, economics, politics and culture. In contrast, the polyhedron, a multi-sided geometric figure, better preserves this multicultural richness. "Our image of globalization should not be the sphere," Pope Francis reflects, "but the polyhedron. It expresses how unity is created while preserving the identities of the peoples, the persons, of the cultures."1

For Pope Francis, this geometric metaphor offers a way to shift the individual's disposition when thinking about



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Called and Delayed Response


Taken from The Jesuit Post

"I thought about him every day for eighteen years," she said. "And we may have been a little delayed, but now, it feels just perfect."

My flight was delayed 45 minutes. Moments before the delay was announced, I was sprinting through the Chicago Midway Airport, backpack bouncing wildly across my shoulders. I was all but desperate to be in line at gate B23, but then a tinny loudspeaker voice gave me the gift of time. A long day at work, a stressful standing-room only train ride, traversing moving walkways and dodging little girls dragging pink princess roller bags - all of it stopped. A 45-minute delay. What to do with 45 minutes?

It was St. Patrick's Day. So I made a beeline for a bar and ordered a Guinness.

The bar was awash with weary travelers. As a table opened up, the bartender handed me an overflowing glass. I carefully balanced the full, black pint in hand while I collected my bag and made for a stool. Another couple had the same idea - Jen and Jack. "Let's sit together," they said, smiling.

Jen and Jack were 40 and 39, respectively, and they were engaged to be married. "Destination wedding," they told me. "Cancun. Too old to get married anywhere cold."

"How did you meet?"

They met eighteen years ago at a bar they both frequented. As it turns out, they were engaged



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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
c/o St Joseph's on Capitol Hill
313 2nd St Northeast
Washington, D.C. 20002

Dedicated to energizing the spiritual and intellectual life of the priesthood
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Last updated May 18, 2017