The National Institute for the Renewal of the Priesthood

The Lord's Passion Begins --
Painter Greg Olsen reminds us that there is "No Greater Love"

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Sunday Sermon

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

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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)

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

March 27, 2015

In this edition:
1. Good Friday's message.
2. Daring to hope this Easter.
3. Transformative Latin American pastors.
4. Current quotes to ponder:
a) Archbishop Romero's witness.
b) The homeless visit Sistine Chapel.
c) Ending the death penalty.
5. Dialogue with Muslims today.
6. Interreligious conflict and harmony.

March 14, 2015

Mercy's key role in theology - Bishops address poverty at nation's crossroads - Looking ahead to the ecology encyclical - Leadership essentials today

In this edition:
1. A holy year of mercy.
2. Mercy in the theologian's vocation.
3. Poverty at a nation's crossroads.
4. Current quotes to ponder:
a) Serving marriages and families.
b) Leadership in the church.
5. Ecumenism's real starting point.
6. The coming encyclical on ecology.

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

Here's What We're Reading!

The Prodigal You Love: Inviting Loved Ones Back To The Church, Author: Theresa Aletheia Noble, FSP

Atchison Blue: A Search for Silence, a Spiritual Home, and a Living Faith, Author: Judith Valente

Ring Bell Walk in: Been There All Along, Author: Tracy O'Sullivan, O. Carm.

No Man's Land: Preparing for War and Peace in Post 9/11 America, Author: Elizabeth D. Samet

Catholic Prayer Book for Separated and Divorced, Woodeene Koenig-Bricker and David Dziena

The Quick Reference Guide to the Catholic Bible, Author: Mary Ann Getty-Sullivan

It's in the News!

Seeing in a Deeper Way

Ron Rolheiser

Sometimes you can see a whole lot of things just by looking. That's one of Yogi Berra's infamous aphorisms. It's a clever expression of course, but, sadly, perhaps mostly, the opposite is truer. Mostly we do a whole lot of looking without really seeing much. Seeing implies more than having good eyesight. Our eyes can be wide open and we can be seeing very little.

I've always been intrigued by how scripture describes Paul immediately after his conversion. We always assume that it tells us that Paul was struck blind by his vision, but, I think, the text implies more. It tells us that Paul got up off the ground with his eyes wide open, seeing nothing. That doesn't necessarily equate with physical blindness. He may well have been seeing physically, but he wasn't seeing the meaning of what he was getting himself into. Someone had to come and open his eyes, not just so that he could see again physically but especially that he could see more deeply into the mystery of Christ. Seeing, truly seeing, implies more than having eyes that are physically healthy and open. We all see the outer surface of things, but what's beneath isn't as automatically seen.

We see this, for instance, in what's contained inside the healing miracles of Jesus. In the Gospels, we see Jesus perform a number of healings. He heals lame people, deaf people, mute people, people with leprosy, and two women who for different reasons are unable to become pregnant. What's important to see in these various miracles is that, almost always, there's more at issue than mere physical healing. Jesus is healing people in a deeper way, that is, he is healing the lame so that they can walk in freedom and in

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Pope Paul VI On Human Life [Humanae Vitae]

Revisiting the most controversial and prescient encyclical of the modern age

Foreword by Mary Eberstadt, Afterword by James Hitchcock, and Postscript by Jennifer Fulwiler Ignatius Press, California. 2014. Pp. 111

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

Humanae Vitae is Pope VI's explanation of why the Catholic Church rejects contraception. The pope referred to two aspects, or meanings, of human sexuality --- the unitive and the procreative. He also warned of the consequences if contraception became widely practiced --- consequences that have since come to pass: greater infidelity in marriage, confusion regarding the nature of human sexuality and its role in society, the objectification of women for sexual pleasure, compulsory government birth control policies, and the reduction of the human body to an instrument of human manipulation. The separation of sexuality from its dual purpose has also resulted in artificial reproduction technologies, including cloning, that threaten the dignity of the human person.

Although greeted by controversy and opposition, Humanae Vitae has continued to influence Catholic moral teaching. St. John Paul II's popular "theology of the body" drew deeply on the insights of Paul VI. Pope Benedict and now Pope Francis have upheld the long-standing teaching, and a new generation of Catholics, as well as non-Catholics, is embracing the truths of the encyclical.

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Upright Living in an Upside Down World

by Eric Immel, SJ
From The Jesuit Post

The world is a mess . . . upside down and inside out. Our news feeds have been engulfed by images of Ferguson on fire, floods, and bombs lighting up dark skies all over the world. ISIS is rising and people are dying. We are captivated by crisis and catastrophe.

This is nothing new.

After the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, some students at the University of Wisconsin -- Madison painted an 8x 4 sheet of plywood orange and maroon, and offered students a chance to write messages of hope and solidarity. Someone chose, however, to dominate the board with their own message, huge and brutal and scrawled in black: it'll happen here next. Sadly, it seems to be happening everywhere.


India is one of those everywhere places -- poverty and political corruption, abuses of women and religion in conflict. I experienced some of that complexity and chaos last summer and yet, I was mostly living in rural places, encountering people in simple ways. I sometimes felt more like a clydesdale show horse than a man, especially when surrounded by children. My white skin, blue eyes, long nose, balding head, and nearly 100-kg (220-ish pounds) frame were completely new to most of them. They thought I was a WWE superstar--giant, sweaty, and playfully physical. What they didn't know was that I was a professional. Sort of.

I was once a gymnast. In a stroke of keen observational prowess, my mother noticed that I had a unique ability to backflip off things,.

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Fear Masking Itself as Piety

Ron Rolheiser

It is easy to mistake piety for the genuine response that God wants of us, that is, to enter into a relationship of intimacy with Him and then try to help others have that same experience.

We see this everywhere in Scripture. For example, in Luke's Gospel, after witnessing a miraculous catch of fish, Peter responds by falling at Jesus' knees and saying: "Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!" At first glance that would seem the appropriate response, a wonderfully-pious one, an acknowledgement of his littleness and unworthiness in the face of God's abundance and goodness. But, as John Shea points out in his commentary on this text, Jesus names Peter's response differently and invites him to something else. What? Peter's response manifests a sincere piety, but it is, in Shea's words, "fearfully wrong": "The awareness of God makes him [Peter] tremble and crushes him down. If he clings to the knees of Jesus, he must be on his own knees. Peter does not embrace the fullness; he wants to go away. This is hardly the response Jesus wants. So he instructs Peter not to be afraid. Instead, he is to use what he experienced to bring others to the same experience. As Jesus has caught him, he is to catch others." Jesus is inviting Peter to move out of fear and into deeper waters of intimacy and God's

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10 Inspirational Sayings For The Lenten Season

Pope Francis

The Lenten season . . . For 40 days and 40 nights, Christians traditionally sacrifice something in the days leading to Easter, the holiest day in Christianity.

1. "Lent comes providentially to reawaken us, to shake us from our lethargy."

2. "Fasting makes sense if it really chips away at our security and, as a consequence, benefits someone else, if it helps us cultivate the style of the good Samaritan, who bent down to his brother in need and took care of him."

3. "Although the life of a person is in a land full of thorns and weeds, there is always a space in which the good seed can grow. You have to trust God."

4. "Each of us has a vision of good and of evil. We have to encourage people to move towards what they think is good... Everyone has his own idea of good and evil and must choose to follow the good and fight evil as he conceives them. That would be enough to make the world a better place."

5. "I believe in God - not in a Catholic God; there is no Catholic God. There is God, and I believe in Jesus Christ, his incarnation. Jesus is my teacher and my pastor, but God, the Father, Abba, is the light and the Creator. This is my Being."

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5 Minutes with the Saints: More Spiritual Nourishment for Busy Teachers

Authors: Lou Delfra, C.S.C., and Ann Primus Berends
Ave Maria Press.
Notre Dame, IN. 2014. Pp. 170

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

These meditations on education, comprised of insights and anecdotes from great Catholic saints, are designed to motivate and inspire today's educators. Like the popular 5 Minutes with Christ (2011), this book was crafted by members of the University of Notre Dame's Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) program, the most prestigious Catholic educator-training program in the United States. Designed to provide daily encouragement to teachers, each meditation features a personal reflection and a short prayer by such saints as Andre Bessette, Ignatius of Loyola, and Elizabeth Ann Seton.

An Excerpt from the Book:

St. Ambrose -- Whatever It Takes

In the Gospel, we are taught to

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What Do I Say: Talking and praying with someone who is dying

Author: Margrit Anna Banta
Franciscan Media. Cincinnati, OH. 2015. Pp. 53

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

People who are dying want to know that they are loved and cared for. Your attentive presence can accomplish this, and What Do I Say? will tell you how. It gives family, friends, and caregivers of the terminally ill a personal and pastoral approach to being with someone who is dying, with suggestions for areas such as important topics to cover and what to do when someone can't communicate. Above all, this book encourages you to provide a steady presence, answering questions when necessary, simply listening at times, and praying with the person when that is desired.

An Excerpt from the Book:

The Importance of Touch

He stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, "I do choose. Be made clean!"

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Christ and Nature

Ron Rolheiser
February 16, 2015

Numerous groups and individuals today are challenging us in regards to our relationship to mother-earth. From Green Peace, from various environmental groups, from various Christian and other religious groups, and from various individual voices, comes the challenge to be less-blind, less-unthinking, and less-reckless in terms of how we relate to the earth. Every day our newscasts point out how, without much in the way of serious reflection, we are polluting the planet, strip-mining its resources, creating mega-landfills, pouring carbon dangerously into the atmosphere, causing the disappearance of thousands of species, creating bad air and bad water, and thinning the ozone layer. And so the cry goes out: live more simply, use fewer resources, lessen your carbon footprint, and try to recycle whatever you've used as much as you can.

That challenge, of course, is very good and very important. The air we breathe out is the air we will eventually inhale and so we need to be very careful about what we exhale. This planet is our home and we need to ensure that, long-term, it can provide us with the sustenance and comfort of a home.

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Searching for a Universal Ethic

Edited by John Verkman and William C. Mattison III
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Grand Rapids. 2014. Pp. 327

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

In this volume twenty-three major scholars comment on and critically evaluate In Search of a Universal Ethic, the 2009 document written by the International Theological Commission (OTC) of the Catholic Church. That historic document represents an official Church contribution both to a more adequate understanding of a universal ethnic and to Catholicism's own tradition of reflection on natural law.

The essays in this book reflect the ITC document's complementary emphasis of dialogue across traditions (universal ethic) and reflection on broadly applicable ethnical guidance within the Christian tradition (natural law). Among other things, the document situates the natural law ethical tradition within the larger search for a universal ethic. Among

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Our Daydreams

Ron Rolheiser

A good part of our lives are taken up with daydreams, though few of us admit that and even fewer of us would own-up to the contents of those fantasies. We're ashamed to admit how much we escape into fantasy and we're even more ashamed to reveal the content of those fantasies. But, whether we admit it or not, we're all pathological daydreamers; except this isn't necessarily a pathology. Our hearts and minds, chronically frustrated by the limits of our lives, naturally seek solace in daydreaming. It's an almost irresistible temptation. Indeed the more sensitive you are, perhaps the stronger will be the propensity to escape into daydreams. Sensitivity triggers restlessness and restlessness doesn't easily find quiet inside ordinary life. Hence, the escape into daydreams.

And what about the contents of those daydreams?

We tend to have two kinds of daydreams: The first kind are triggered more by the immediate hurts and temptations within our lives; for example, a lingering hurt or anger has you fantasizing about revenge and you play out various scenes of retaliation over and over again in your mind. Or an emotional or sexual obsession has you fantasying about various kinds of consummation.

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How Long? Not Long: Our Need of Rest and Renewal

by Brendan Busse, SJ

Taken from An excellent website to visit!!

At the end of the 5-day march from Selma to Montgomery, Martin Luther King, Jr. noted that "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice." Some days we may feel the curve of this arc but many days we sense only its length. And how long? they had asked. It was a dignified version of the question every tired child knows too well: Are we there yet?

We're not there yet. It appears to be, as Mandela would say, a long walk to freedom . . . and even longer still to justice and peace.

During our many years of Jesuit formation our Constitutions require us annually, in addition to an 8-day retreat, to take a few days of silence and prayer to renew our vows. It's a strange thing to do since our vows are perpetual and they don't, technically speaking, require renewal. But the wisdom of our founder Ignatius is evident in the fact that we — work-addicted Jesuits, like all mission-driven people — need the rest and the reminder that these retreats provide.

We need to remember, even and especially, the things we know to be permanent. We need to

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What Should I Do For Lent? Pope Francis' 10 Tips

by Kevin Cotter | February 9, 2015

Every year Catholics try to answer the age old question: What should I do for Lent? Well, who better to pick for as your Lenten spiritual director than Pope Francis? He has some great ideas for you!

Here we selected 10 of his best tips:

1. Get rid of the lazy addiction to evil "[Lent] is a 'powerful' season, a turning point that can foster change and conversion in each of us. We all need to improve, to change for the better. Lent helps us and thus we leave behind old habits and the lazy addiction to the evil that deceives and ensnares us." -- General Audience, March 5, 2014

2. Do something that hurts "Lent is a fitting time for self-denial; we would do well to ask ourselves what we can give up in order to help and enrich others by our own poverty. Let us not forget that real poverty hurts: no self-denial is real without this dimension of penance. I distrust a charity that costs nothing and does not hurt." -- Lenten Message, 2014

3. Don't remain indifferent "Indifference to our neighbor and to God also represents a real temptation for us Christians. Each year during Lent we need

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Why Priests? Here is why

by Jay Hooks, SJ
April 30, 2013

Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy

I really wanted to believe that Benjamin Franklin said that. For years, I did believe it. But according to Bob Skilnik, a grand poobah of beer history, our revered kite-flier did not in fact say this. What Benny Franks did say, while more edifying, was much less titillating:

"Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine, a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy."1

Thanks, Mr. Skilnik, for giving us the truth. Thanks, too, for the buzzkill.

So it turns out that Franklin was waxing lyrical about wine, not beer. To be honest, though, as much as I want my thirst for porters and stouts to be endorsed by historical giants, I do respect the truth-sleuths that look for the facts behind the fun.2 Heck, I enjoy looking for the real story almost as much as I like spreading those tales (true? not true?) about subliminal messages in Disney movies. I rush to when a story smells of legend.

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Public Humility, or Talking with One Another Again

by Nathaniel Romano, SJ
on November 15, 2014

This post is an excerpt from the new The Jesuit Post book, available on Kindle and in paperback.

The book features 20 new essays from writers for The Jesuit Post, as well as reprinting a few of the best essays from our first two years online. For more information, click here.

Do you see Jesus in me?! Do you?!! The shout echoed in the bare room, less a question than an accusation. His eyes opened wide, nostrils flared, the pane of bulletproof glass and the intercom telephone in my hand vibrating with his anger. He was nearly twice my age and had spent most of his life behind glass like that, or bars. I added up the time once he had spent more time in jail than I had been in school. I'd spent a lot of time in school.

Truth be told, we frustrated each other. When I spoke it was about the Law (with a capital letter). In his blunt, obscenity-filled language he spoke about Life. When he talked I would try to filter out the profanity to get to the relevant stuff. He, though, wanted me to see that it was his life that was

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Mistakes Were Made

Taken from
Eric Immel

My handwriting is terrible. It's like someone tied a pencil to the tail of a pomeranian and let it run wild across the page. A comical mess, a Jackson Pollock font. Essay exams and handwritten letters are the bane of my existence.

As I begin a new semester, I am re-noticing this - shall we say - A quality of my handwriting. And my spelling? It's of a similar, ahem, quality. Most noticeably, my consistent misspelling of two words: commitment (spelled with two ms after the c (committment) and judgment (spelled with an "e" after "m" ( judgement). As I just typed them, autocorrect fixed my errors. I watched it happen.

Commitment, the anti-hero of millennials everywhere. Judgment, that which many fear the most. Sloppily writing and spelling them are one thing, but there's no autocorrect for them in real life.


For eight years, I stumbled through a discernment process that eventually led me to the Society of Jesus. It was a good discernment. But, I'd be lying if I thought there wasn't a

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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 March 19, 2015