Sunday Mass at St. John Neumann

One of the things I enjoy about being Vocation Director is that I get to go around to various parishes in the Archdiocese to celebrate weekend Masses and preach on Vocations. It is a good opportunity to meet the faithful throughout the diocese and to get them to hopefully think a bit more about vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

It is also neat to see the way that the various parishes celebrate Mass in their own unique way. I spent this weekend at St. John Neumann on the northwest side of Hamilton County. The generosity of the parish really struck me. In their bulletin, they noted that they give 5% of each collection to charity, what a wonderful witness. This weekend was also the return of gifts for a sister parish or a school, I didn’t hear exactly what it was. The amount of gifts brought in was staggering. Nearly every family brought in at least a few gifts, many bringing in a good stack of packages. That type of generosity can help to foster that gift of self that is required for someone to respond to the gift of a vocation.

Yikes! Only two weeks left until Christmas!

passing the time in the confessional…

I generally hear confessions most days, as it is scheduled 3x a day each weekday at the Cathedral. Usually, there is a pretty steady line of penitents and there isn’t much dead time. However, I bring something with me to read more often than not, b/c if you don’t bring anything, no one shows up for the sacrament.

Most of the time, I bring something spiritual to read: Letters to my Brother Priests, by JPII; the recent edition of First Things, the breviary. However, the other day (I won’t say which) my Autoweek came in just before I hit the box, and I had to take it with me. It was the Racing Year in Review, and I wanted to catch up on the series I follow (NOT NA$CAR!). I know, not the most spiritual of reading, but you gotta have down time as well.

December 8th: Immaculate Conception

One nice thing about working in the Downtown Office building is that you get the religious holidays off, which I haven’t had the last two years while teaching at Elder. It gives me a nice chance to reflect on the nature of the day and to catch up on things around home.

As I celebrated the morning Mass today, I was struck by the parallel between the first reading from Genesis (Eve’s disobediance) and the Gospel of Mary’s ‘fiat’ to God that reversed Eve’s blame game. God was able to intervene into human history because one young woman was able to say yes to an absolutely mind blowing invitation, and all of history changed because of it.

It would be so simple if we all followed Mary’s model: say yes even when we can’t fully understand. God has the best in mind for us, yet we are often so reluctant. Too many times, we follow Eve’s example of passing blame to someone else: “I’m not responsible, that serpent tricked me!” I have often wondered what salvation history would have been like if Eve had owned up to the mistake and asked for forgiveness instead of passing blame to the Serpent. (Heck, back it up a step and ask the same thing about Adam.)

Oh well, what is important is that the feast we celebrate is the beginning of our Redemption by Christ. This is when Mary was prepared, from the beginning of her life here on Earth, to be a suitable dwelling place for her Creator. What a wonderful day and we rejoice to see it come!

By the way, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is also the Patronal Feast of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West, here in Cincinnati. Beginning last year, I believe, this is when the First Theology students are admitted to Candidacy for Orders. This is the Church’s official recognition that these men have been accepted and are preparing for Holy Orders. Please keep them, and all seminiarians, in your prayers.
Update
Eight men were admitted as Candidates for Holy Orders yesterday at the 11:00 AM ceremony at Mt. St. Mary’s, five of the men are studying for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, with one each from Toledo,Youngstown and Kalamazoo. In his homily, the Archbishop compared the feast and the ceremony as both relating to Salvation: on the part of the feast, this was the beginning of a new turn in Salvation history, Mary was the first redeemed by the action of her Son on the Cross. In regards to the ceremony; these men are to prepared themselves to be agents of salvation by their leadership in the church as priests, and specifically in their role of the celebration of the Sacraments, which aid the people on their way to salvation. It was a wonderous and joyous celebration, as it is always uplifting to see men take the next step towards ordination.
On a side note, Archbishop also mentioned that Candidacy is also about the future of the seminary, for if there are no candidates for priesthood, there is no seminary. My response: “I’m doing my best so that we have to add on to the place!”