Do you feel called: Priesthood or Religious Life?

vocation
If you feel called to the priesthood or religious life, you might like to read this article, which appeared on CatholicExchange.com

Don’t Just Discern Your Vocation

by BR. GABRIEL T. MOSHER, O.P on OCTOBER 18, 2013 

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There’s a cause for today’s vocation shortage that’s rarely addressed. Too many people are discerning; not enough people are deciding. I know they mean well, but instead of courageously pursuing the priesthood or religious life they form safe communities where they can muse on ideals instead of act on principles.
I call them the Order of Perpetual Discerners. I’m not questioning their piety. I wouldn’t dream of impugning their intentions. However, they fundamentally misunderstand how to discern God’s will. They agonize over the call. They seek spiritual directors and confidants to emote about the vexing feelings they’re experiencing. The sad result is that they never actually discern; they only dream.
The narcissism pervading our culture is a major cause of this trend. We act as if it’s a virtue. Popular culture promotes it. Popular Christian culture is ensnared by it. It’s not surprising that the modern obsession with self-care was bound to cause some problems. The philosophy of Søren Kierkegaard provides intellectual soil for it. Personality cults popularize it. Televangelists and magazine rack mystics sell it. Our contemporary culture has been perfectly constructed to cultivate narcissistic Christianity. Combine the popular psychologism preached in our parishes with a society steeped in postmodern despair and you get exactly what we’ve got — a simulacrum of the Corinthian Christianity that St. Paul fought against.
Common trends of vocational discernment typify the Catholic appropriation of this narcissism. The problem isn’t whether people are or are not discerning. The problem is people are stuck in their heads. It’s like they’re waiting for an infallible neon sign from God. “Constantine got his in hoc signo, so should I!” The truth is, however, God doesn’t usually operate that way. He’s the author of the ordinary, the mundane. God reveals the extraordinary only after we’ve embraced the ordinary.
The scenario I’m describing is ubiquitous. I frequently see it among candidates inquiring into my own Order. This narcissism is why so many will “come and see,” but so few will “stay to pray.” They’ve gotten stuck in the discernment trap and they lack the tools to get out. They try to get out by doing exactly what our culture has taught them to do. They look inward. Yet, by doing this they’ll never find what they’re seeking. Why? Because the answer is found on the outside not on the inside. Thankfully, this sickness isn’t unto death.
Technically the word discernment is a good one. It describes the ability to wisely chose one thing over another. It’s not simply the ability to separate good from bad. More specifically it’s the ability to place all the good things we encounter in a hierarchical order from what’s good to what’s best. Discernment is essentially an intellectual process of ordering perceived goods. However, we can get stuck in the process if we lack critical information. When this happens we become paralyzed because all our possible choices seem to be equally good. In this scenario we become incapable of discerning which vocation to choose. This is the discernment trap. The lacuna in our knowledge is often the result of asking the wrong question. We usually ask ourselves which vocation is better for me. Instead we need to simply ask which vocation is better.
I can already hear objections and outrage at what I just wrote. That’s because savvy readers know what I’m about to say. The best vocation is the one immediately ordered to contemplation. The best vocation is religious life. Moderns think this statement  is an insult to married couples. They think it’s antiquated hogwash. After all, didn’t the Second Vatican Council do away with thinking of religious life as objectively superior to married life?
Well, not exactly. The Council desired that we avoid minimizing the dignity of Holy Matrimony. Lord knows there’s been enough of that! What, then, does it mean for religious life to be objectively superior to married life? It’s simply the consequence of religious life being a more perfect reflection of beatitude. Married life is good but religious life is better. The Second Vatican Council affirms this position when it calls religious life an eschatological sign. It literally allows us to begin living on earth what the saints experience in heaven.
Probably most people reading this article have never heard this before now. That’s because it’s never, or rarely, preached. But it’s also because we rarely consider how God’s love affects our daily lives. What does this mean? It means God desires our highest good. This isn’t limited to His desire that we get to heaven. His love extends to all the particular aspects of our life. God wants the best for us at every moment of our lives in every possible way. When His love intersects with vocational discernment the ramifications are clear. He desires that we participate in the highest of form of Christian life. God desires that each of use enter religious life.
Once discernment is seen this way everything changes. The question is no longer about whether God desires me to live one way or another. No. I already know that God desires me to choose and possess the greatest good. Knowing this the process of discernment is no longer about guessing what’s in God’s mind. Discernment becomes a question of whether I’m capable of living religious life or not.
St. Thomas Aquinas was no stranger to the difficulties of discernment. He also excelled at placing things in their proper order. Wisely, he left a practical guide to help us get out of the discernment trap. Much of what I’m saying is found in Question 189 in the “Secunda secundae” of the Summa Theologiae. Each article asks very practical questions about religious discernment. Each are real questions from his day. Many of them were surely his own questions. Most of them are the same questions we continue to ask today. His conclusions are as helpful today as when the ink was still fresh. Tolle lege!
The reality is, however, that you can read about discernment until your eyes fall out. There is a simpler solution that Aquinas would appreciate. Enter the novitiate! Enter the seminary! Among good things there is no replacement for experiential knowledge. The Church knows this and has designed these structures to help your discernment. A pair of pants may look nice on the rack, but you’ll never know if they fit until you try them on. And, if you already know your size, what are you waiting for. Buy the pants! Entering the seminary or the novitiate doesn’t involve signing a contract in your own blood. They are trial periods for both you and the community. They are designed for you to “try on” the community. If a community doesn’t fit, you can always put it back on the rack.
Remember, you’ll never discover your vocation in your own head. Stop over-thinking it! Follow the example of our Blessed Mother.  When God calls, answer. After you answer, ponder. While you ponder it follow Him wherever He leads you. Be at peace. Abandon yourself to God’s will and you will undoubtedly save your own soul and win the salvation of many more. Make a choice and live it.

Br. Gabriel T. Mosher, O.P

BY BR. GABRIEL T. MOSHER, O.P

Br. Gabriel Thomas Mosher, O.P. is a Dominican Student Brother with the Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, studying at the DSPTand residing at St. Albert Priory in Oakland, CA. He attended Texas A&M University but completed his B.A. in Philosophy at Holy Apostles College & Seminary. When Br. Gabriel, O.P. isn’t studying he is frequently engaged in the work of the New Evangelization through the responsible use of Social Media, giving talks on a variety of topics, and leading retreats. You can contact or follow Br. Gabriel, O.P. online at his site The Eighth Way, on Facebook, or Twitter.

Society of St Vincent de Paul

SVP

St Joseph’s Parish SVP

helping the homeless, hungry and needy in a variety of ways.

If you think you could join the St Vincent de Paul Society, or are interested to know more, please contact St Joseph’s SVP members via the Parish Office on: 020 8942 2602 or email at: secretary@stjoseph-newmalden.org.uk or: catholicnewmalden@icloud.com

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Our Parish is currently involved in four projects to help the homeless and hungry:

  1. Anonymous provision of 6 months rental for an otherwise homeless Parishioner.
  2. Our Annual Pre-Advent Charity Fayre.
  3. We’re about to get involved in a big way in the local Food Bank (next month).
  4. Preparations for our annual participationin the ecumenical Winter Night Shelter.

November ~ Month of the Holy Souls

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Pray for the Dead. They pray for you.

Holy Souls Envelopes are available in church. Include the names of your deceased Family and Friends – and a Mass offering – so that November Requiems can be offered for them throughout the Month of the Holy Souls, and also during 2014 . When completed, put your envelope into the collection basket at Mass or through the Presbytery letterbox as soon as possible.
On All Souls’ Day (Saturday 2 November) the 10.00 Mass will be a Requiem for All the Faithful Departed. Other Requiems will be offered throughout the ferial weekdays of November.

Roman Miscellany – 70 anni fa

deportation

70 years ago – 16 October, 1943

The English College is located only a short distance from the historic Jewish Quarter of Rome. It’s an area steeped in history, with many of its buildings incorporating vast swathes of ancient and medieval Rome in their structures. At the far end of The Ghetto, as it’s called, is the magnificent Teatro di Marcello, which is itself surrounded by other impressive sites of archeological and historical interest, such as the Campidoglio on one side and the Portico d’Ottavia on the other. Dominating the entire quarter is the great Synagogue, which dates from the late nineteenth-century, and replaces a much older structure. Nowadays, the area is popular with tourists who wish to try the very specific flavours of Roman kosher cooking, and in spite of the increase security bollards and police posts, it is a peaceful and beautiful part of Rome in which to enjoy an evening passeggiata, and maybe take an aperitivo.

However, it was not always so, and yesterday, the People of Rome remembered one of the most terrifying events of the last century: the deportation of the Roman Jews.

rome-womanThe Nazi occupying forces commenced their roundup of the Roman Jews on the 16 October, 1943. The “Raid of the Ghetto” started at 05.30 in the heart of the historic Jewish quarter near via Portico d’Ottavia, Arenula and the Teatro di Marcello. Simultaneously in the the rest of the city, which had been divided into 26 operational areas by the German Command, the “Hunt for Jews” progressed without mercy. The captured Jews were initially imprisoned at the Military College in via Lungara, awaiting transportation to concentration camps.

rome-boyThe first group of 1,023 men women and children, young and old, departed from Tiburtina station in sealed cattle wagons on 18 October, bound for Auschwitz – Birkenau. Amongst their number, 244 were children, the youngest being the son of Marcella Perugia, born the day before departure. 188 were senior citizens, born before 1884: the eldest, Rachel Livoli, was 90-years-old.

Upon arrival at Birkenau, the majority were sent immediately to the gas chambers; only 149 men and 47 women avoided this immediate fate. At the end of the war, only one woman, Settimia Spizzichino, will have survived, along with 16 men.

Upon hearing the news of the deportation, Pope Pius XII gave orders to priests, monks and nuns to do all that they could to shelter and protect the Jews from the Nazis. Many enclosed houses of female sisters, which had not seen a man within their walls for centuries, now provided much-needed sanctuary for hundreds at a time. The Bridgetine convent in Piazza Farnese, next to the English College, sheltered many Jewish families, breaking an enclosure which had existed prior to this event for 700 years.

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Perhaps the most famous of the these wartime heroes was Mgr Hugh O’Flaherty, who saved many Allied military airmen, as well as hundreds of Jews, by hiding them in convents. He was Public Enemy Number One as far as the SS were concerned. Nevertheless, he would go on to eventually convert the Nazi SS Lieutenant Colonel Herbert Kappler, in spite of the fact that Kappler had ordered numerous attempts to have the priest murdered during the Occupation. After the war, O’Flaherty was Kappler’s only visitor, visiting him every month. In 1959, Kappler was baptized into the Church, at the hands of the man he had tried so hard to kill. A film, The Scarlett and the Black, was made in 1983 staring Gregory Peck as the jovial Irish Monsignor, with Christopher Plummer as the SS officer who ultimately found friendship and salvation in the most unlikely of places.

By the time of Rome’s liberation, another 1,000 Jews will have been deported. However, the number would have been much higher had it not been for the decisive action of Pope Pius XII and the valour of many Roman laity, priests and nuns, who acted on his call to save their fellow Romans.

When I was a young lad growing up in the relative safety of the UK, when thinking of the atrocities of the Nazis, we used to say, “Never Again!”; yet, in spite of this harsh lesson from history, there are many places in our world – today – where entire populations are being wiped out. Thankfully, subsequent Popes, and others of goodwill, continue to speak out against these acts of barbarity, and at least some people hear them, and take a stand.

Lest we forget!

Phil Andrews

A world consecrated in Love

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On Sunday 13 October 2013, Pope Francis celebrated Solemn Mass in St Peter’s square in honour of the Marian Day, an event organized as part of the Year of Faith, on the anniversary of the final apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima (13 October 1917). As part of this celebration, he also consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Here is the text of his homily, courtesy of news.va.

In the Psalm we said: “Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvellous things” (Ps 98:1). Today we consider one of the marvellous things which the Lord has done: Mary! A lowly and weak creature like ourselves, she was chosen to be the Mother of God, the Mother of her Creator.
Considering Mary in the light of the readings we have just heard, I would like to reflect with you on three things: first, God surprises us, second, God asks us to be faithful, and third, God is our strength.
First: God surprises us. The story of Naaman, the commander of the army of the king of Aram, is remarkable. In order to be healed of leprosy, he turns to the prophet of God, Elisha, who does not perform magic or demand anything unusual of him, but asks him simply to trust in God and to wash in the waters of the river. Not, however, in one of the great rivers of Damascus, but in the little stream of the Jordan. Naaman is left surprised, even taken aback. What kind of God is this who asks for something so simple? He wants to turn back, but then he goes ahead, he immerses himself in the Jordan and is immediately healed (cf. 2 Kg 5:1-4). There it is: God surprises us. It is precisely in poverty, in weakness and in humility that he reveals himself and grants us his love, which saves us, heals us and gives us strength. He asks us only to obey his word and to trust in him.
This was the experience of the Virgin Mary. At the message of the angel, she does not hide her surprise. It is the astonishment of realizing that God, to become man, had chosen her, a simple maid of Nazareth. Not someone who lived in a palace amid power and riches, or one who had done extraordinary things, but simply someone who was open to God and put her trust in him, even without understanding everything: “Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word” (Lk 1:38). That was her answer. God constantly surprises us, he bursts our categories, he wreaks havoc with our plans. And he tells us: trust me, do not be afraid, let yourself be surprised, leave yourself behind and follow me!
Today let us all ask ourselves whether we are afraid of what God might ask, or of what he does ask. Do I let myself be surprised by God, as Mary was, or do I remain caught up in my own safety zone: in forms of material, intellectual or ideological security, taking refuge in my own projects and plans? Do I truly let God into my life? How do I answer him?
In the passage from Saint Paul which we have heard, the Apostle tells his disciple Timothy: remember Jesus Christ. If we persevere with him, we will also reign with him (cf. 2 Tim 2:8-13). This is the second thing: to remember Christ always – to be mindful of Jesus Christ – and thus to persevere in faith. God surprises us with his love, but he demands that we be faithful in following him. We can be unfaithful, but he cannot: he is “the faithful one” and he demands of us that same fidelity. Think of all the times when we were excited about something or other, some initiative, some task, but afterwards, at the first sign of difficulty, we threw in the towel. Sadly, this also happens in the case of fundamental decisions, such as marriage. It is the difficulty of remaining steadfast, faithful to decisions we have made and to commitments we have made. Often it is easy enough to say “yes”, but then we fail to repeat this “yes” each and every day. We fail to be faithful.
Mary said her “yes” to God: a “yes” which threw her simple life in Nazareth into turmoil, and not only once. Any number of times she had to utter a heartfelt “yes” at moments of joy and sorrow, culminating in the “yes” she spoke at the foot of the Cross. Here today there are many mothers present; think of the full extent of Mary’s faithfulness to God: seeing her only Son hanging on the Cross. The faithful woman, still standing, utterly heartbroken, yet faithful and strong.
And I ask myself: am I a Christian by fits and starts, or am I a Christian full-time? Our culture of the ephemeral, the relative, also takes its toll on the way we live our faith. God asks us to be faithful to him, daily, in our everyday life. He goes on to say that, even if we are sometimes unfaithful to him, he remains faithful. In his mercy, he never tires of stretching out his hand to lift us up, to encourage us to continue our journey, to come back and tell him of our weakness, so that he can grant us his strength. This is the real journey: to walk with the Lord always, even at moments of weakness, even in our sins. Never to prefer a makeshift path of our own. That kills us. Faith is ultimate fidelity, like that of Mary.
The last thing: God is our strength. I think of the ten lepers in the Gospel who were healed by Jesus. They approach him and, keeping their distance, they call out: “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” (Lk 17:13). They are sick, they need love and strength, and they are looking for someone to heal them. Jesus responds by freeing them from their disease. Strikingly, however, only one of them comes back, praising God and thanking him in a loud voice. Jesus notes this: ten asked to be healed and only one returned to praise God in a loud voice and to acknowledge that he is our strength. Knowing how to give thanks, to give praise for everything that the Lord has done for us.
Take Mary. After the Annunciation, her first act is one of charity towards her elderly kinswoman Elizabeth. Her first words are: “My soul magnifies the Lord”, in other words, a song of praise and thanksgiving to God not only for what he did for her, but for what he had done throughout the history of salvation. Everything is his gift. If we can realise that everything is God’s gift, how happy will our hearts be! Everything is his gift. He is our strength! Saying “thank you” is such an easy thing, and yet so hard! How often do we say “thank you” to one another in our families? These are essential words for our life in common. “Excuse me”, “sorry”, “thank you”. If families can say these three things, they will be fine. “Excuse me”, “sorry”, “thank you”. How often do we say “thank you” in our families? How often do we say “thank you” to those who help us, those close to us, those at our side throughout life? All too often we take everything for granted! This happens with God too. It is easy to approach the Lord to ask for something, but to go and thank him: “Well, I don’t need to”.
As we continue our celebration of the Eucharist, let us invoke Mary’s intercession. May she help us to be open to God’s surprises, to be faithful to him each and every day, and to praise and thank him, for he is our strength. Amen.

Pope Emeritus Benedict receiving the image of our Lady of Fatima at his private oratory.
Pope Emeritus Benedict receiving the image of our Lady of Fatima at his private oratory.

Association for Latin Liturgy

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AssocLatLit

Association for Latin Liturgy

Under the patronage of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales

Open Meeting here at

ST JOSEPH’S CHURCH

Montem Road, New Malden KT3 3QW (nearest station is New Malden)

Saturday 19th October 2013

12 noon: SOLEMN SUNG LATIN MASS

Buffet Lunch

Talk by Fr Guy Nicholls, Cong Orat

The Graduale Parvum: producing a book of straightforward chants for use in parishes

Business Meeting (brief AGM for members)

4 pm: Solemn Sung Latin Vespers

followed by tea in the parish hall

To book for the day please send a cheque for £14 (which includes lunch) to:

Ian Wells, 4a Kelvin Road, Thorneywood, Nottingham NG3 2PR.

R.C.I.A.

RCIA
The 2013 R.C.I.A. Evangelium course commences Thursday 10th October at 19:45 in Room 3 of the Parish Pastoral Centre (PC3).
We especially invite and urge every Parishioner to come on this excellent course which explores Catholicism and covers the whole Catechism of the Catholic Church in 25 sessions on Thursday evenings for an hour-and-a-half from 19:45 to 21:15.
Beginning with The Meaning of Life, Part I of the Catechism covers the Creed in 10 sessions. Then Part 2, on theSacraments, flanks Christmas / New Year. Part 3 on the Moral Life prepares for Lent, while Lent is given to the Life of Prayer, and followed by Eastertide Catechesis until Pentecost.
Evangelium is based on wonderful Christian art, opens up history and our traditions from the earliest times to the present day Church, relating Religion and Science with our Faith and Reason.
Don’t miss out!
“Every Catholic needs to come on this programme.”
“If you’re serious about your Faith – don’t miss Evangelium.”
“For the Catholic answers to today’s questions” come on Thursdays
Evangelium is also for those who might think about becoming Catholics, or who just want to know what the Catholic Church believes and teaches.
Might this be the Year (of Faith) when you finally join the Catholic Church?