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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

February 11, 2017

In this edition:
1. Murders in a mosque.
2. Current quotes to ponder:
a) Vetting of refugees.
b) Refugee children.
c) Appeals court decision.
3. Holocaust remembrance.
4. Pope's Lenten message.
5. Hints on praying.
6. Website on "dying well."

January 31, 2017

1. Church reacts to president's actions.
2. Sanctuary cities.
3. Current quotes to ponder:
a) 2017 March for Life.
4. "Dark moment" for nation.
5. Won't wall benefit traffickers?
6. A bishop's take on nationalism.
7. Nationalism: three key questions.

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

Here's What We're Reading!

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

Availability: The challenge and the gift of being present, Robert J. Wicks

Roots of Violence: Creating peace through spiritual reconciliation, Krister Stendahl

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

Peter: Keys to Following Jesus, Tim Gray

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

It's in the News!

Of Winners and Losers

By Ron Rolheiser

Our society tends to divide us up into winners and losers. Sadly, we don't often reflect on how this affects our relationships with each other, nor on what it means for us as Christians.

What does it mean? In essence, that our relationships with each other tend are too charged with competition and jealousy because we are too infected with the drive to out-do, out-achieve, and out-hustle each other. For example, here are some of slogans that pass for wisdom today: Win! Be the best at something! Show others you're more talented than they are! Show that you are more sophisticated than others! Don't apologize for putting yourself first! Don't be a loser!

These phrases aren't just innocence axioms cheerleading us to work harder; they're viruses infecting us so that most everything in our world now conspires with the narcissism within us to push us to achieve, to set ourselves apart from others, to stand out, to be at the top of the class, to be the best athlete, the best dressed, the

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A haven for the poor in Margaritaville

Peter Feuerherd | Feb. 16, 2017 NCR Today

The Field Hospital
Taken from the National Catholic Reporter

Key West is Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville, a speck on the map lurching into the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico where tourists go to unwind and escape winter's bitter northern winds. Its symbol is a hammock and a cold drink.

But there's another side to Key West. The local Catholic parish, the Basilica of St. Mary Star of the Sea [1], has set up its own field hospital in an effort to address the needs of the region's poor. Key West is part of a county that ranks near the top in income disparity in the U.S.

In a place that practically invented leisure, there's a whole army of workers who make that lifestyle possible, cleaning the hotel rooms, maintaining the lawns for winter homes, and working the tourist and fishing boats. And they are hurting, says Tom Callahan, a volunteer and executive director of the Star of the Sea Foundation

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#Examen: Clicking, Liking, and Posting for the Greater Glory

Taken from The Jesuit Post

It's been a thirty-minute grading break, and here I am now: furious, sad, exhausted, confused, and deeply torn. . . I felt obliged to read the comments on an article about the attempt to sell off federal lands. But, it left me wondering. . . Why do I hesitate to read comments on a news article? Why am I stuck wondering what sparked someone's Facebook discussion? Why do I linger on infuriating Tweets? Why do I walk away from social media at times, feeling exhausted, angry, or less myself? Is this even good for me? . . . It sure hasn't felt like a break.

Social media seems to be bursting at the seams with opinions on recent stories ranging from fights over vaccines to #NoDAPL to SNL's recent work, and the tenor of the conversation often carries a bitter edge.

I try to engage the conversation when I read news, blogs, and commentaries (especially TJP). But, it doesn't take long on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or

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Nothing focuses the mind more intensely than death

Bill Tammeus | Feb. 8, 2017
A small "c" catholic

Printed in The National Catholic Reporter

The unforgiving reality of my own mortality has been rudely slapping me upside the head in recent weeks. And I'm glad.

After all, nothing focuses the mind more intensely than death. And without a focused mind, I may well just drift through life without serious meaning, thought or purpose. Living like that would say to the giver of life that the gift was mediocre, uninteresting, tedious. It's hard to imagine saying anything less loving to God than that.

So one day I attended a memorial service [1] at a United Methodist church for a woman I knew and respected, someone who was eight months younger than I am. And I wondered: Is this how it will be now? I outlive my peers? I attend funerals of friends?

The next day, Yordano Ventura, a blazing 25-year-old pitching star for the Kansas City Royals, died in a car wreck [2] in his native Dominican Republic. If I had died at 25, my career at The Kansas City Star would have been measured in months, not decades.

The day after that, a cousin just two years older than I am died in Illinois. Another cousin sent a note saying that of the six of us who had worked together on a family reunion book in the 1990s, only three were left.

So, yes, Psalm 103:15 had it right when it moaned, "The days of a human life are like grass: they bloom like a wildflower; but when the wind blows through it, it's gone; even the ground where it stood doesn't remember it."

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Welcoming the Stranger

Ron Rolheiser

In the Hebrew Scriptures, that part of the bible we call the Old Testament, we find a strong religious challenge to always welcome the stranger, the foreigner. This was emphasized for two reasons: First, because the Jewish people themselves had once been foreigners and immigrants. Their scriptures kept reminding them not to forget that. Second, they believed that God's revelation, most often, comes to us through the stranger, in what's foreign to us. That belief was integral to their faith.

The great prophets developed this much further. They taught that God favors the poor preferentially and that consequently we will be judged, judged religiously, by how we treat the poor. The prophets coined this mantra (still worth memorizing): The quality of your faith will be judged by the quality of justice in the land; and the quality of justice in the land will always be judged by how orphans, widows, and strangers fare while you are alive.

Orphans, widows, and strangers! That's scriptural code for who, at any given time, are the three most vulnerable groups in society. And the prophets' message didn't go down easy. Rather it was a religious affront to many of the pious at the time who strongly believed that we will be judged religiously and morally by the rigor and strictness of our religious observance. Then, like now, social justice was often religiously marginalized.

But Jesus sides with the Hebrew prophets. For him, God not only makes a preferential option for the poor, but God is in the poor. How we treat the poor is how we treat God. Moreover the prophets' mantra, that we will be

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Four Reasons Not to Read This Article

Taken from The Jesuit Post

"Four Reasons NOT to Read This Article" sounds like a title meant to provoke your interest.

It is.1

But aside from that, not reading another article online is probably good advice.

Let me explain.

One recent weekend morning, I spent five hours consuming articles and video clips online. Like many idle cyber flaneurs, I glutted myself with an uneven mix of brain vegetables and mindless junk food. Longer think pieces on politics, shorter news articles, a few SNL skits to lighten the tone, snippets from bumbled press conferences. . . whatever shiny things crackled and popped on Youtube, the New York Times, Twitter, and the Atlantic.

As I sat in pajamas, watching the sun climb then disappear over my house, I found myself growing. . . numb. I was not enjoying this lounge-fest, but I couldn't summon the energy to pull out of my Internet Sloth Spiral either. My phone, with its brand new battery, was flagging -- it had quickly gone from 100% to Power Save Mode -- and it let me know of this depressing fact. My soul was hovering around 20%, as well.

"Good grief. . . look at your life!" I thought -- and forced myself outside for an afternoon run.

* * *

I submit, for your consideration, some facts about our collective internet consumption:

  • 2.9 billion Google

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What I saw in the megachurches

by Stephen Bullivant

Taken from Catholic Herald

An interesting insight on what most makes mega parishes successful.

American Evangelical churches pack in more than 2,000 worshippers every week. Our parishes have much to learn from them

Still basking in the warm afterglow of Christian Unity Week? Fired by the Vatican's pioneering "ecumenism of philately", with its Martin Luther stamp, to strive ever more zealously "that they may all be one"? No? Well, your loss.

This week I've a treat in store: enough to tempt even the least ecumaniacal of these my brethren. What, I have been pondering, might our Catholic parishes learn from American Evangelical megachurches?

I won't comment here on matters of dogma, except to say that on many core matters - the Incarnation, the Trinity, the demonstrable rationality of belief in God - there is often little to quibble over. (Though there is, I might add, much diversity among America's 1,500 or so megachurches.) On areas of sexual and life ethics, too, there is typically more common ground than with some traditional dialogue partners.

Remember that many of today's leading Catholic lights

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Embittered Moralizing

By Ron Rolheiser

One of the dangers inherent in trying to live out a life of Christian fidelity is that we are prone to become embittered moralizers, older brothers of the prodigal son, angry and jealous at God's over-generous mercy, bitter because persons who wander and stray can so easily access the heavenly banquet table.

But this isn't unique to faithful church-goers. It's part of the universal struggle to age without bitterness and anger. We spend the first-half of our lives wrestling with the sixth commandment and spend the last-half of our lives wrestling with the fifth commandment: Thou shalt not kill! Long before anyone is shot by a gun, he is shot by a word, and before he is shot by a word, he is shot by a thought. We all think murderous thoughts: Who does he think he is? And it becomes harder and harder not to think them as we age. Aging without bitterness and anger is in fact our final struggle, psychologically and spiritually. The great Swiss psychologist, Alice Miller, suggests that the primary task of the second-half of life is that of mourning, mourning our wounds so as not to become bitter and angry. We have to mourn, she says, until our very foundations shake otherwise our ungrieved wounds will forever leave us prone to bitterness, anger, and cold judgments.

At the end of the day there is only one remaining spiritual imperative: We are not meant to

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Truth First then Reconciliation

Take from The Jesuit Post

Despite having just had eight years with our first (and only) Black president, racism continues to shape so much of the reality in our country. We can see this in the continuing gaps in wealth, education, and incarceration that in some cases have even widened. And so as always, but maybe just more clearly after this election cycle, there is a real need for racial reconciliation. But is that where we're currently going?

"Reconciliation" is used in many ways and for many purposes, but its necessary first step is a deep acknowledgement of the truth, no matter how unpleasant or uncomfortable. Catholics know this well from the Sacrament of Reconciliation which teaches us that before we can move forward, we must first examine ourselves to get to the deeper roots behind our sin. Only by courageously admitting the truth of what we've done can reconciliation happen. Likewise, in these admittedly scary times, it's clear that yes, as a country we must work for reconciliation, but we need to also realize that this can't happen until we are willing to fully face our country's intensely racist past.

How We Look Back

What are some of the damaging and false ways we look back on the past that prevent reconciliation in the present? I remember my introduction to the "good and evil" lens with

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Building a Culture of Life

Taken from The Jesuit Post

As the annual March for Life gets underway today in Washington, D.C., people are standing up for both women and the lives of the unborn. Despite the exclusion of NewWave Feminists as co-sponsors at the Women's March, many pro-life women and men demonstrated alongside those who are "pro-choice." Many of these same folks may show up again for the March for Life as well. Why? Our society is only as just as we treat the least in our society. That not only means working to stop abortions, but working to create a culture in which women do not need to have them - in which there are supports to help them and keep them from worrying about how they will continue their education or pay their bills, and what their families, friends, or community may think of them. These marches and protests don't happen every day though, so what can we do all the other days of the year to build a culture of life?

1) Volunteer. Look for agencies like crisis pregnancy help centers or women's shelters near you. Help out at a nursing home or hospice care center. Or,

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God's Power as Powerlessness

By Ron Rolheiser

The French novelist and essayist, Leon Bloy, once made this comment about God's power in our world: "God seems to have condemned himself until the end of time not to exercise any immediate right of a master over a servant or a king over a subject. We can do what we want. He will defend himself only by his patience and his beauty."

God defends himself only by his patience and his beauty! How true! And how significant for our understanding of power!

The way we understand power is invariably bound up with how we see power exercised in our world. Our world understands power precisely as a force that can lord it over others, a force that can compel others to obey. In our world, power is understood to be real only when it can forcibly assert itself to make others obey it. For us, strong people have power, political rulers have power, economic systems have power, billionaires have power, the rich and the famous have power, muscular bodies have power, and the playground bully has power;

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Democratic Prophecy

Taken from The Jesuit Post

Recent events have reminded me of Jacques Maritain's book Man and the State. Therein he makes four points about an obscure topic that is now splashed all over the headlines: democratic prophecy.

1. Prophecy is necessary to democracy.

Democracy like every government has a legal structure. In fact, what we typically call "democracies" are not democracies at all. Rather, they are governments with the form of a republic and the democratic principle of popular sovereignty.

But for all the forms, structures and norms, a society always has to rediscover the principles that found their institutions, and often in spite of those institutions. For a democracy, that task has to be carried out by the people. And so democracy depends upon "the dynamic leaven or energy which fosters political movement, and which cannot be inscribed in any constitution or embodied in any institution, since it is both personal and contingent in nature, and rooted in free initiative."1

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True lesson of Dorothy Day's 'Coffee Cup Mass'

Brian Terrell

"All over the world -- all the troubled, indeed anguished spots of the world -- there Christ is with the poor, the suffering, even in the cup we share together, in the bread we eat."
-- Dorothy Day

Dorothy Day's biographer Jim Forest tells a story that I first remember hearing at a 1997 conference at Marquette University marking the 100th anniversary of her birth: "When a priest close to the community used a coffee cup for a chalice at a Mass celebrated in the soup kitchen on First Street, she afterward took the cup, kissed it, and buried it in the backyard. It was no longer suited for coffee -- it had held the Blood of Christ. I learned more about the Eucharist that day than I had from any book or sermon."

The story has since taken hold of the imaginations of many. It appears in newspaper articles, blog posts and sermons in various forms. In his telling of the story, published in 1998, Forest charitably presents the celebrant priest as a well-meaning innocent doing as he thought he was expected and who humbly learned from the experience.

In some of the retellings, the priest is exposed as an arrogant and disrespectful upstart acting with evil intent. As Our Sunday Visitor tells it in a 2013 article, for example, he was a "celebrity priest who flouted the Church's norms." Always, this story is recounted as the classic illustration of Day's reverence for the Eucharist and for her adherence to the ritual traditions and regulations of the church.

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Peace is only found in yes

Peace is only found in yes.

The plain but powerful mantra was glowing -- almost vibrating -- off a photocopied page from some collection of pithy spiritual one-liners. I was beginning a retreat for busy people -- professionals who needed a nudge in the direction of the divine. Yes, I thought. Yes is where I will find my peace. Yes is where my happiness rests. Yes will be my salvation.

I was, after all, a yes man. At the time, I worked with university student organizations and built a career around saying that single, simple word. Yes, of course I'll be at the Mass you planned for this Saturday. Yes, of course I'll sit in your group's dunk tank, or let you throw pies in my face, or form a team to participate in a 12-hour stationary bike marathon. Yes, of course I'll give you a second chance. Yes, of course I'll turn the other way.

This perpetual yes-ing has continued. I left that job for another yes, a response to some deep question about the religious life. And wouldn't you know it, after a few years away from full-time work, I'm at it again, this time at a startup college trying to meet the needs of young people who (by no fault of their own) face significant adversity in earning a higher education degree. Everything is new, and everyone seems to do everything. Most of the time, yes feels like the only option. The right option.

Why, then, does peace so often hide from me?


A friend invited me to a private

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Discovering the true self in God with Merton's guidance

Ilia Delio | Jan. 23, 2017
NCR Today Taken from the National Catholic Reporter

Take and Read

Editor's note: "Take and Read" is a weekly blog that features a different contributor's reflections on a specific book that changed their lives. Good books, as blog co-editors Congregation of St. Agnes Sr. Dianne Bergant and Michael Daley say, "can inspire, affirm, challenge, change, even disturb."

New Seeds of Contemplation
by Thomas Merton
New Directions, 1961

I discovered Thomas Merton in the midst of a laboratory. I was a doctoral student in pharmacology at New Jersey Medical School working on a model of moto-neuron disease known as ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) and remember standing in the middle of the lab one day, procrastinating by thumbing through TIME magazine. I enjoyed reading the book review section and was struck by a new biography of a monk named Thomas Merton. I had never heard of Merton, but the summary of the book was intriguing. I went home that evening and reread the book review. The highlights of his life were fascinating: an intellectual from Columbia University whose cultural and literary life was relinquished for one of solitude and silence in a Trappist monastery. I was drawn to Merton like a magnet. I bought Monica Furlong's biography [1] and read it in a single evening. I then went and purchased Merton's

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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
through an ongoing dialogue via the Internet.

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Last updated February 12, 2017