The National Institute for the Renewal of the Priesthood

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Artist Greg Olsen shows us our Lord doing exactly that.
It's important to pause now and then and give thanks as we admire God's creation.

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Sunday Sermon

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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)

Fr. Gene interviewed on Relevant Radio about Multi-Culturism

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

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

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

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

October 19, 2014

In this edition:
1. Message of the synod assembly.
2. Synod: family strengths, challenges.
3. Concluding synod report.
4. Pope Francis at synod's conclusion.
5. After 2014 synod: What is next?
6. From synod 2014 to synod 2015.
7. Pope to synod: listen; speak openly.

September 28, 2014

In this edition:
1. Chicago's new archbishop.
2. Archbishop Cupich on ministry.
3. Current quotes to ponder:
a) Words of a Vatican astronomer.
b) Domestic violence, a pastoral issue.
c) A lived sense of mercy.
4. Resurrecting the sense of mercy.
5. Planning for a diocese's poorest areas.
6. Hospitable parish spaces.

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

Here's What We're Reading!

One in the Lord: Living Our Call to Christian Community, Author: Susan Muto

Becoming Catholic: Finding Rome in the American Religious Landscape, David Yamane

Figuring out the Church: Her Marks, and Her Masters, Author: Aidan Michols, O.P.

Imitating Mary: Ten Marian Virtues for the Modern Mom, Author: Marge Fenelon

Scripture: God's Handbook for Evangelizing Catholics, Author: Stephen J. Binz

Love Awakened by Love: The Liberating Ascent of Saint John of the Cross
Author: Mark O'Keefe, O.S.B.

Understanding Love and Responsibility: A Companion to Karol Wojtyla's Classic Work, Author: Richard A Spinello

Evangelizing Catholics: A Mission Manual for the New Evangelization, Scott Hahn

Their Name is Today: Reclaiming Childhood in a Hostile World, Johann Christoph Arnold

Zealous: Following Jesus with Guidance from St. Paul, Author: Mark Hart and Christopher Cuddy

The Franciscan Heart of Thomas Merton, Author: Daniel P. Horan, O.F.M.

Eager to Love: The alternative way of Francis of Assisi, Author: Richard Rohr

It's in the News!

Schonborn: Get rid of 'tunnel view' when it comes to discussion of families

Christa Pongratz-Lippitt
Oct. 23, 2014

Synod on the Family

Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna has appealed not only to the media but also to the church in general to take a closer look at the broader family environment -- including single parents, widows, children of divorced couples, and patchwork families -- rather than concentrate solely on Communion for divorced and remarried people and those in gay relationships.

The media's "tunnel view" -- namely, its concentration on divorced and remarried people and those in same-sex relationships -- also to a certain extent played a dominant role at the synod discussions, he told the press on his return to Vienna.

He then quoted the view of one of the only female participants at the synod, whom Pope Francis was especially invited to take part: Ute Eberl, 52, a married mother of three who has been responsible for family pastoral work in the Berlin archdiocese for over 20 years. (See below.)

"Take a look at the living room first and not at the bedroom," Schonborn said Eberl told synod participants in her four-minute talk. "Once you start wagging your finger, you're no longer taken seriously."

Schonborn said he agreed with Eberl and knew the pope did, too.

The decline of marriage worldwide is the most worrying factor by far and should be occupying center stage, Schonborn said. "The really big problem is that people aren't getting married at all -- and that is worldwide," he said.

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All wars begin in a jealous heart; let go of pride, envy, pope says

Carol Glatz Catholic News Service | Oct. 22, 2014 The Francis Chronicles

Vatican City

All wars begin in the human heart -- a heart that is jealous and bitter and tears apart communities through misunderstandings and marginalization, Pope Francis said.

"How wonderful if we would remember more often who we are, what Jesus Christ did with us: We are his body," members of the church filled with the Holy Spirit's gift of new life in Christ and united in fellowship and love, he said at his weekly general audience [1] Wednesday in St. Peter's Square.

The day also marked the feast day of St. John Paul II, who "invited everyone to open the doors to Christ," said Pope Francis, who canonized the Polish pope in April.

As the church celebrated for the first time the memorial of St. John Paul, Pope Francis recalled how he "reminded the whole world of the mystery of divine mercy.

"May his spiritual legacy not be forgotten, but drive us to reflect and act concretely for the good of the church, the family and society," he said in a greeting to pilgrims from Poland.

In his main audience talk, the pope continued his catechesis on the nature of the Catholic church, focusing on the church as body of Christ.

The pope told everyone that their homework for the day was to read Chapter 37 of the Book of Ezekiel and the "Vision of the Dry Bones," which, he said, offers a "striking" yet hope-filled image of God's power to join together and breathe new life into a dead

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The Goddess of Chastity

Ron Rolheiser

Ancient Greece expressed much of its psychological and spiritual wisdom inside their myths. They didn't intend these to be taken literally or as historical, but as metaphor and as an archetypal illustration of why life is as it is and how people engage life both generatively and destructively.

And many of these myths are centered on gods and goddesses. They had gods and goddesses to mirror virtually every aspect of life, every aspect of human behavior, and every innate human propensity. Moreover, many of these gods and goddesses were far from moral in their behavior, especially in their sexual lives. They had messy affairs with each other and with human beings. However, despite the messiness and amorality of their sexual behavior, one of the positive features inside these myths was that, for Ancient Greece, sex was always, somehow, connected to the divine. Even temple prostitution was somehow related to accessing the fertility that emanated from the divine realm.

Within this pantheon of gods and goddesses there was a particular goddess name Artemis. Unlike most of their other goddesses, who were sexually promiscuous, she was chaste and celibate. Her sexual abstinence represented the place and the value of chastity and celibacy. She was pictured as a tall, graceful figure, attractive sexually, but with a beauty that, while sexual, was different from the seductive sexuality of goddesses like Aphrodite and Hera. In the figure of Artemis, sex is pictured as an attractive blend of solitude and integrity. She is frequently pictured as surrounded by members of her own sex or by members of the opposite sex who appear as friends and intimates, but never as lovers.

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Four easy steps to take to become a bishop

Fr. Peter Daly | Oct. 14, 2014 Parish Diary
National Catholic Reporter

The appointment of Blase Cupich [1] as the new archbishop of Chicago is a good sign. He is a pastoral bishop. His writings emphasize civility in discourse and a willingness to listen. He is not a cultural warrior. He seeks dialogue rather than confrontation. Hopefully, Cupich's pastoral orientation is a harbinger of appointments to come.

Pope Francis has given the church an indication of the kind of things he wants in his priests and bishops. He says he wants priests and bishops who have the "smell of the sheep"; that is, he wants them to be out among their people and not remote, removed and seemingly superior.

Last year, Pope Francis also told bishops at World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro that they should not be bishops of the airport, but bishops of their dioceses. He doesn't want them being jet-setters, always flying off to Rome and to meetings and conferences. They should be home with their people.

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Sunday Homilies: St. Vincent Archabbey --- Cycle B

Authors: Demetrius Dumm, OSB, Campion P. Gavaler, OSB
Saint Vincent Archabbey Publications. Latrobe, PA. 2014. Pp. 144

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

Sunday homily reflections of Father Demetrius Dumm, O.S.B. and Father Campion Cavaler, O.S.B. are a collection of scholarly insights on the gospel that contain a beautiful simplicity mirroring they are more than academic exercises; they are the result of both priests being immersed in monastic contemplation. Their commentaries go directly to the essence of the gospel message without useless details and distinctions that distract from its spirit. Their down-to-earth applications of the gospel to daily living also reveal that their profound understanding of it cannot but be the result of the powers of contemplation

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MSW Visits Notre Dame

Michael Sean Winters | Oct. 9, 2014 Distinctly Catholic National Catholic Reporter

By reputation, I had long been aware that the University of Notre Dame is a great Catholic university. This past weekend, for the very first time, I made the trek to South Bend and was able to assess that reputation first hand and, in the event, to confirm it. I have many impressions of my whirlwind three days on campus. Here are some of them.

Sunday night, about 10:15 p.m., I went out for a last cigarette before bedtime. (One complaint about the school - there is a dearth of ashtrays!) The campus was eerily quiet in front of my hotel so I kept walking, across the street to the academic quad, and there was no one heading to Legends, the Irish pub at the far end. I walked north to a residential quad but there was no one out and about there. On the way back to my hotel room, I passed four students walking along a path. The man who valet parks the cars at the hotel was standing idle. I wondered: How remote is this place? Is there really nothing to do on a weekend night? The next morning, I learned the reason

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Sacred Permission to Be Human and the Tools to Handle Frustration

Ron Rolheiser

Sometimes certain texts in the bible make you wonder: Is this really the word of God? Why is this text in scripture? What's the lesson here?

For example, we have verses in the Psalms, in passages that we pray liturgically, where we ask God to bash the heads of the children of our enemies against a rock. How does that invite us to love our enemies? We see passages in the Book of Job where Job is in despair and curses not on only the day he was born but the very fact that anyone was born. It's impossible to find even a trace of anything positive in his lament. Similarly, in a rather famous text, we hear Qoheleth affirm that everything in our lives and in the life of this world is simple vanity, wind, vapor, of no substance and of no consequence. What's the lesson here? Then, in the Gospels, we have passages where the apostles, discouraged by opposition to their message, ask Jesus to call down fire and destroy the very people to whom they are supposed to minister. Hardly an exemplar for ministry!

Why are these texts in the bible? Because they give us sacred permission to feel the way we feel sometimes and they give us

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Jesus the Bridegroom: Seeing Christ and the Cross through Ancient Jewish Eyes

Author: Brant Pitre
Image. New York. 2014. Pp. 198

An Excerpt from the Introduction:

From Paul's point of view, the torture and crucifixion of Jesus on Calvary was nothing less than an expression of spousal love.

What are we to make of this mysterious analogy? To be sure, most Christians are familiar with the idea that "Christ is the Bridegroom" and the "Church is the Bride." But what does this really mean? And what would ever possess Paul to think up such a comparison? If you would have been there at the foot of the bloody cross, with Jesus hanging there dying, is that how you would have described what was happening? How could a first-century Jew like Paul, who knew what Roman crucifixions were like, have ever compared the execution of Jesus to the marriage between a bridegroom

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Pope Paul VI is almost a saint. Here are four of his biggest legacies

David Gibson Religion News Service | Oct. 18, 2014
National Catholic Reporter

As he wraps up a Vatican meeting marked by sharp debates over sex and morality, Pope Francis on Sunday will honor one of his most controversial predecessors by beatifying Pope Paul VI, who is most famous for reaffirming the Catholic church's ban on artificial contraception.

Beatification puts Paul one step shy of formal sainthood. The move might seem out of step with Francis' pastoral approach given that Paul's birth control ruling, in the 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, set the stage for the culture wars that overtook Catholicism after Paul died in 1978.

A wide swath of Catholics, especially in the U.S. and Europe, were furious over Paul's decision. They were convinced that the ban would be lifted and that Paul was shutting down the reforms that had begun a few years earlier with momentous changes adopted by the Second Vatican Council.

Many conservatives, on the other hand, hailed Humanae Vitae for reasserting traditional doctrine, and the division foreshadowed the deep splits

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Lack of priests continues to close parishes, yet there is still no discussion

Dennis Coday | Sep. 29, 2014

"It's very upsetting. It's kind of like a death," Emily Cassady told KCCI Channel 8 News out of Des Moines, Iowa. Cassady was talking about the closure of Assumption Parish in Churchville, Iowa, a rural community about 20 miles southeast of Des Moines.

Assumption Parish was established in 1855 and the first church built in 1859, but that ended after Masses Aug. 31. Assumption is now a shrine, a building available for Sunday Masses about once a month or for special occasions, such as weddings and funerals.

"The parish has experienced a declining membership over the years and three previous pastors had recommended it be closed," the official announcement from the Des Moines diocese says. Bishop Richard Pates "took into consideration the pastors' recommendations, the ability of the parish to be viable in faith development, and advice from his priest advisory group" and

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Pew study: Catholics are independent thinkers ready to participate in the political process

Dawn Cherie Araujo
The National Catholic Reporter

The Pew Research Center on Monday released a survey looking at the changing political views of American Christians. While broadly speaking, the survey found an increasing desire for religion to play a role [1] in politics across American Christianity, among Catholics, it found an independently thinking group more ready to participate in the political process than in recent years.

First, most white Catholics (53 percent) are Republicans or at least Republican-leaning, which has been the case since 2010. In the poll, 39 percent of white Catholics said they are Democrats or Democrat-leaning. Hispanic Catholics are more liberal than their white counterparts, with 67 percent identifying with the Democratic Party.

But if you think Catholics' political affiliation would allow you to pare them down to cookie-cutter conservative

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Pope: Use gifts to benefit church, not create division, envy, annoyance

Carol Glatz Catholic News Service | Oct. 1, 2014 The Francis Chronicles

Vatican City

Everyone has a special gift to offer the whole church, just make sure it is used to serve everyone and not to puff up one's own pride or to create division, Pope Francis said.

"It is a gift that God has given to someone not because he or she is a better person than someone else or because she or he deserves it," the pope said Wednesday at his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square [1].

God gives gifts freely, out of love, so that they can be "put at the service of the whole community for the good of all people," he said.

The pope continued a series of talks on the nature of the Catholic church, focusing on charisms or precious gifts the Holy Spirit bestows on individuals for the edification of the church.

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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 October 25, 2014