The National Institute for the Renewal of the Priesthood

Pentecost as seen through the eyes of the painter Duccio di Buoninsegna (1308)

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Sunday Sermon

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Father Gene reflects on the missionaries who came to this country, their courage and their commitment to the faith

Father Gene shares his thoughts about an amazing exhibit called "Picturing Mary: Woman, Mother, Idea" and highly recommends it

New Year's Resolutions from a different perspective

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

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

Father Gene shares his thoughts about procrastination

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

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

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

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

May 29, 2015

In this edition:
1. Vatican II: not "council lite."
2. Teachings of Vatican II.
3. Forging ecumenism's future.
4. Quotes to ponder on council:
a) Doctrine viewed pastorally.
b) Muslims and Catholics today.
c) Muslim-Catholic action in world.
5. Unfinished business of Vatican II.
6. Vatican II: Church and world.
7. A church present to the world.

May 9, 2015

In this edition:
1. Consecrated life at crossroads.
2. Religious in the world of today.
3. Challenge of interreligious dialogue.
4. Current quotes to ponder:
a) To speak of love.
b) Baltimore today: structural sin.
c) The unrest in Baltimore.
5. What a just wage is.
6. Why Christian life is a pilgrimage.
7. Wanting the best for others.

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

Here's What We're Reading!

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

Becoming a Parish of Intentional Disciples, Sherry A. Weddell

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

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

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

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

Rebuilding Youth Ministry: Ten Practical Strategies for Catholic Parishes, Christopher Wesley

Stumble: Virtue, Vice and the Space Between, Heather King

Woman of Strength: Learning from the Proverbs 31 Women Authors include: Kimberly Hahn

Merton & Waugh: A Monk, A Crusty Old Man & The Seven Storey Mountain, Mary Frances Coady

The Archaeology of Faith: A Personal Exploration of How We Come to Believe, Louis J. Cameli

Deepening Engagement: Essential Wisdom for Listening and Leading with Purpose, Meaning and Joy, Author: Diane M. Millis

It's in the News!

Inordinate Attachments Moral Flaw or Struggle With Divine Energy?

Ron Rolheiser

The renowned spiritual writer, Henri Nouwen, made no secret about the fact that he was emotionally over-sensitive and that he suffered, sometimes to the point of clinical depression, from emotional obsessions. At times, he, a vowed celibate, was simply overpowered by the feeling of being in love with someone who was hopelessly unavailable that he became psychologically paralyzed and needed professional help.

Yet, given Nouwen's moral honesty and the transparency of his life, one would hardly ascribe this to him as a moral flaw, however emotionally-crippling it was at times. He simply could not help himself sometimes, such was his emotional sensitivity.

Almost all sensitive people suffer something similar, though perhaps not as acute as what afflicted Henri Nouwen. Moreover these kinds of emotional obsessions affect our whole lives, including our moral and religious lives. What we do in the pain and paralysis of obsession rarely does us proud and is often far from a free act. In the grip of an emotional obsession we cannot think freely, pray freely, decide things freely, and we are prone to act out compulsively in ways that are not moral. What is the morality of our actions then?

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When the Numbers Don't Just Add Up: Budgeting Justice

By Quentin Dupont, SJ
Taken from the Jesuit Post

A couple of weeks ago I stepped into the office of an accounting faculty member at Seattle University. We were talking March Madness brackets, when suddenly I noticed a print out of the Journal of Accountancy on his desk with the headline Pope Francis on the role of accountants in Society.

He looked at me with a grin. Do you guys in finance have that? The Pope is talking to accountants, man!

Accountants? Who cares? I left accounting behind when I left soccer behind - a third of a lifetime ago, and I am glad for the new loves I found in return: finance and baseball. So why bother with accounting again, ever? I mean, sure, it was tax season, and we've already heard from our national accountants about next year's national deficit, I mean, national budget. Sorry. After all, yeah, it's budget season.

In no small part, it's government news that throws us into budget season. Remember the sequester a couple years back, the government shutdown that followed, and the constant tax break vs. government spending fights? The government, at the federal, state and local systems fund the justice system, law enforcement and correctional

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Artificial Light

Ron Rolheiser

What's the use of an old-fashioned, hand-held lantern? Well, its light can be quite useful when it's pitch-dark, but it becomes superfluous and unnoticeable in the noonday sun. Still, this doesn't mean its light is bad, only that it's weak.

If we hold that image in our minds, we will see both a huge irony and a profound lesson in the Gospels when they describe the arrest of Jesus. Gospel of John, for example, describes his arrest this way: "Judas brought the cohort to this place together with guards sent by the chief priests and Pharisees, all carrying lanterns and torches." John wants us to see the irony in this, that is, the forces of this world have come to arrest and put on trial, Jesus, the Light of the world, carrying weak, artificial light, a lantern in the face of the Light of the world, puny light in the full face of the noonday sun. As well, in naming this irony, the Gospels are offering a second lesson: when we no longer walk in the light of Christ, we will invariably turn to artificial light.

This image, I believe, can serve as a penetrating metaphor for how the criticism that the Enlightenment has made of our Christian belief in God stands before what it is criticizing. That criticism has two prongs.

The first prong is this:

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Seven Marks of a New Evangelist

By Fr. Robert Barron

Both St. Pope John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI have declared that the New Evangelization should be the central preoccupation of the Catholic Church at the beginning of this third millennium. Accordingly, upon becoming rector of Mundelein Seminary, I resolved that this historic place should be placed on a New Evangelization footing. This means that Mundelein will be about the business of training priests skilled in the art and science of announcing the Christian message to a culture that is growing increasingly indifferent, even hostile, to it.

What precisely are the marks that ought to characterize someone geared to this mission? There are, of course, many, but I would specially highlight seven.

In Love with Jesus Christ

First, a new evangelist has to be in love with Jesus Christ. Evangelization is not simply the sharing of ideas or convictions. If it were, any theologian or historian of ideas would be automatically skilled in it. The Good News is about a relationship with the person of Jesus, a friendship with the risen Christ. As the Romans said long ago, nemo dat quod non habet (no one gives what he doesn't have); therefore, if someone wants to share this

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Contemporary Writers in Spirituality

Ron Rolheiser

Among those who write in the area of spirituality today, who's being read? Here's my list of spiritual writers who are highly influential today in the English-speaking world:

Henri Nouwen -- Dutch/American, Roman Catholic, priest. Perhaps the most widely-read and most-influential among all contemporary authors in spirituality.

Thomas Merton -- Roman Catholic, monk, one of the most influential spiritual writers in the past 100 years.

C.S. Lewis -- British, layman, Anglican. Well-known across both religious and secular circles. Brought a literary genius to his articulation of the Christian faith.

Jim Wallis -- American, Evangelical, layman, popular-evangelist, social activist, social organizer. The closest our age has to a "Dorothy Day". Widely read and respected across all denominational lines.

Thomas Halik -- Roman Catholic, priest, Czechoslovakian, recent winner of the prestigious Templeton award.

Parker Palmer -- Quaker, layman, American, much-respected across all

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Beyond Bed and Bath: Candles in Latino Culture

by Andras Arteaga, SJ

Taken from The Jesuit Post

There's definitely a monopoly on candles in our society. You can buy the smell of anything nowadays and find it in any color wax. Just walk into any American household. Almost every suburban home is bound to have more than a few candles decorating every room. A blue ocean-scented candle for the bathroom, a green forest-scented candle for the living room, etc. But let's stop and ask ourselves: What is the meaning behind the candles that we light in our homes? Relaxation, romance, seasonal ambience - or maybe just to cover up a horrible smell? Is it simply to add style and class to our living rooms? Or can there be a deeper meaning behind these candles?

For me, the answer is yes. You see, I never grew up with scented candles, let alone the concept of candle decor. (This apparently is a thing.) My eldest sister first introduced me to candle decor when I moved to the suburbs with her at the age of eighteen. She used them as way to help create the country chic look that she was going for. It worked. Now her home looks like a barnyard cafe that Martha Stewart would frequent.

* * *

In stark contrast, I grew up with

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Junipero Serra: saint or not?

Thomas Reese
Taken from The National Catholic Reporter

The upcoming canonization of Junipero Serra is causing controversy as his supporters view him as the Franciscan who brought Christianity to California Indians, while his opponents see him as a co-conspirator with the oppression of the Indians by the Spanish empire. Pope Francis will canonize him at a Sept. 23 Mass in Washington, D.C.

Who was Serra? What should we think of him?

For answers, I went to Robert Senkewicz [1], professor of history at Santa Clara University and an expert on early California history. He is the author of a number of books on early California, including the just-published Junipero Serra: California, Indians, and the Transformation of a Missionary, which he wrote with his wife Rose Marie Beebe.

NCR: Who was Junipero Serra?

Robert Senkewicz: Junipero Serra was an 18th-century Franciscan who was a very successful philosophy teacher on the island of Mallorca. In the middle of his life, he volunteered to go to the missions of the New World, where Franciscans had been working since the early 1500s. Serra arrived in Mexico City on Jan. 1, 1750.

He spent eight years working in an area of Mexico about 100 miles north of Mexico City called the Sierra Gorda among the Pame Indians who had been evangelized a little bit earlier. Then he spent another eight years working in various

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Communion theology deepens multiculturalism

Marian Ronan
Taken from The National Catholic Reporter

The Shared Parish: Latinos, Anglos, and the future of U.S. Catholicism
By Brett C. Hoover
Published by New York University Press, $49

It's virtually a truism these days that Latinos are the future of the U.S. Church. According to various Pew surveys, one-third of all U.S. Catholics were Hispanic in 2013. And younger Catholics are much more likely to be Hispanic than are Catholics over 50 (44 percent versus 21 percent).

Yet even as statistics reflect the extent of these shifts, they do not show the profound changes in daily life that undergird them. It is precisely these gaps that Brett Hoover addresses in his significant new book, The Shared Parish.

Hoover, an assistant professor of theological studies at Loyola Marymount University, explores the complex relationship between groups of Latino and Anglo Catholics in the Midwestern parish of "All Saints" in the "diocese of Port Jefferson" (both pseudonyms, in the interest of privacy).

Based on 10 months of ethnographic work conducted in 2007, the book uses sociology, Latino/Latina studies, ethnography, and theology to explore the specific ways those two groups do and do not

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Inconvenient Faith: Ruined for Life

Eric Immel, SJ from The Jesuit Post

As a Jesuit scholastic, it's impossible for me not to rub elbows with a Jesuit Volunteers (JVs) and a Former Jesuit Volunteers (FJVs). These are recent college grads who sign up for a year or two of service among the poor. Think Jesuit-styled Peace Corps and AmeriCorps; this is the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. They honor four core values: spirituality, simplicity, social justice, and community. And, like any Jesuit-friendly group, they know how to throw a great party to celebrate those values and their good work.

At first glance, a JVC house party looks like any other house party. A dim light guides people up the stairs to a porch that will be occupied by deep thinking sometimes-smokers, and there's a magic marked note on the door: a please take your shoes off! Below this note, the pile of kicks in the small foyer is diverse - several pairs of Toms and Chuck Taylors, old running shoes and well-worn Sperry knock-offs. There might be some hiking boots or rugged adventure sandals, and lots of Target-bought ballet flats, usually teal, wine, mustard yellow, or cheetah print.

Inside the main room, it's loud, clusters of young people embracing as old friends and talking excitedly. There's also some epic, painstakingly chosen, dance tracks playing. In a few hours, the talking will subside, and dance will rule the room. There's a dark narrow hallway, walls plastered with artifacts of prior tenants - quote collage and religious imagery abound, prayer flags shredded and dangling, announcements about actions and protests,

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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 May 26, 2015