Kansas City, Mo., Mar 13, 2011 (CNA) - Prayer. There is no substitute.
That was the message that priests and avowed men and women religious gave to some 800 Catholic school and home-schooled fifth graders at the 15th annual Fifth Grade Vocation Days Feb. 9-10.
Gathered at Archbishop O’Hara High School in Kansas City, Mo., the fifth graders learned that God has a plan for their lives, and the only way to know that plan was to talk and listen to God in prayer.
Some of the priests and religious brothers and sisters who spoke to the fifth graders in both large and small groups told them that they had even pursued other calls until God’s call to religious life could not be ignored.
“I went to college, got a degree in mathematics and I taught math,” Father Joe Miller, director of vocations for the Society of the Most Precious Blood, told boys in small group sessions.
“I almost got married,” he said. “But I really felt the nudge of God calling me to be a priest.”
And it was a nudge heard only in prayer, Father Miller said. God sent him no loud, clear instructions.
“It wasn’t a bolt of lightning, or a burning bush like Moses,” he said. “God will call you similar to the way he called me. It will be a little nudge, a little pull inside.”
Franciscan Sister Mary Clare Eichman told the fifth graders that she also wanted to be married and have a family.
“Even though I had a job I liked, something was missing,” she said.
“I always thought that I just hadn’t found that perfect guy yet,” Sister Mary Clare said. “Then I found that perfect guy” — Jesus.
She recalled her sister, Pam, expecting her first child, telling her “This was what I was created to do.”
“I learned that God was calling me,” she said. “Only when I started living out religious life, I finally understood my sister’s words. This is what I was created to do. It’s brought me more joy and fulfillment than I could ever dream of.”
Diocesan vocations director Father Richard Rocha told the fifth graders that he was a football coach at both the college and the high school levels before he responded to his call to the priesthood.
He introduced seminarians Michael Leeper, who told the fifth graders he heard the call in the U.S. Navy, and Sean McCaffery, who said he had a Hollywood acting career going, including a part in a Hannah Montana video, when he responded to his call.
God may be calling any of the fifth graders to religious life, to married life, or to single life. But he is calling them to something, the priests and religious told the fifth graders.
“Don’t be afraid to listen to his dreams for you,” Sister Mary Clare said. “You’ll be amazed.”
The fifth graders got the message, as well as learning about the lives of priests, religious brothers and sisters.
“We learned what it is like to be a sister,” said Isabel Flores, of St. Peter School in Kansas City. “It means you are married to God.”
“Being a priest is fun, but sometimes it can be sad when people die,” said Xavier Lamros of Nativity of Mary School in Independence.
“We learned there is a difference between nuns and sisters,” said Madison Clark of Our Lady of the Presentation School in Lee’s Summit. “Sisters are more missionary, and more active in the community. Nuns are more cloistered and they pray a lot.”
“If you pray and listen to God,” said Emilie Connors of Presentation, “God will tell you your mission in life.”
Bishop Robert W. Finn, in his homily at Mass that ended each day, told the fifth graders, that it isn’t always easy to hear God’s voice through all the distractions and noise of living.
“We have to know which voices to follow, which paths to follow,” he said.
“We have to listen to him in our hearts. We have to listen to him in the Word of God. We have to listen to him in the teachings of the church, and we have to listen to him in our prayers,” the bishop said.
“Sometimes we just need to be quiet with God in prayer,” he said. “If we do that more and more, we can recognize God’s voice calling us.”
Bishop Finn said time spent in prayer will help a young person recognize the voice of God just as easily as they recognize their best friend’s voice or a parent’s voice immediately over a telephone.
“We learn to recognize the voices of people we care about and love immediately,” he said.
“We need to spend time with the Lord Jesus Christ so we can begin to recognize his voice,” Bishop Finn said. “This is the voice that really matters, the person who loves us and cares for us through and through. We have to learn to listen to Our Lord, Jesus Christ. He will call you.”
Bishop Finn asked the fifth graders to pray for him, and he promised to pray for them as well.
“Jesus has a plan for you,” he said. “My prayer for you is that you will say, ‘Yes.’”
Printed with permission from the Catholic Key, newspaper for the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph, Mo.
Denver, Colo., Mar 13, 2011 (CNA) - A conference for Catholic workers in the field of psychotherapy is slated to draw nearly 200 people to Denver. The numbers show an “incredible need” for Catholic therapists to network, fellowship and “understand the faith” together, said organizer Dr. Christina Lynch.
The 2nd annual conference, sponsored by the Catholic Psychotherapy Association, will be held March 25-26 at the Pope John Paul II Center at the Archdiocese of Denver.
The two-day event features talks, workshops and opportunities for networking. Its theme for this year’s conference is: “Implementing the Catholic Faith into Your Practice: Psychotherapy in the Service of the Church.”
Noted speakers include three Colorado bishops: Denver’s Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, Auxiliary Bishop of Denver James D. Conley, and Colorado Springs’ Bishop Michael J. Sheridan.
Dr. Christina Lynch, staff psychologist for St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver, said in a March 11 phone interview that there is an “incredible need” for Catholic psychotherapists to fellowship with one another and be encouraged in the faith.
“So many clinicians have been trained in a secular model,” she said, adding that “not many of them have been trained with the understanding of a Catholic anthropology of the person.”
Lynch said that Catholic therapists convening to learn more about the faith and each other serves “not only for our own catechesis and understanding of the Catholic Church,” but it also effects how “we implement that into our practice.”
The conference organizer said that the number of participants in the 2011 conference has grown exponentially in comparison with last year's event in Atlanta, Georgia.
In 2010, “we expected maybe 20-25 people,” she said, “so we were pretty surprised when 75 people showed up for the conference two hours outside of Atlanta.”
However, this year “we already have almost 200 people signed up and it’s still two weeks away,” she said, calling it “very exciting.”
Participants range not only in expertise and background but also in nationality, as the conference is drawing individuals from Australia, Peru, Canada and all across the U.S.
“We really want to not only network amongst ourselves but also to include students and clergy and religious,” she said, adding that around 25 of those registered are priests of members of religious communities.
Lynch said that the Catholic Psychotherapy Association was formed several years ago out of the desire to help Catholic clinicians “get together and network and find each other.”
“People are so busy and have individual practices and think they're kind of out there all by themselves,” she said.
Lynch, along with other Catholic leaders in the field such as Dr. Kathryn Benes and Dr. William Nordling, “decided that if we formed this organization we could be a network, peer resource for each other and help each other out.”
The group's stated mission is “to support mental health practitioners by promoting the development of psychological theory and mental health practice which encompasses a full understanding of the human person and society in communion with the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.”
Archbishop Chaput – whom Lynch said has been “very supportive” of the initiative – is set to preside over the first day's Mass at the conference. Auxiliary Bishop Conley will celebrate the closing Mass on March 26.
For more conference information is available at: www.catholicpsychotherapy.org/conference
CNA STAFF, Mar 13, 2011 (CNA) - On March 18, the Roman Catholic Church will honor St. Cyril of Jerusalem, a fourth-century bishop and Doctor of the Church whose writings are still regarded as masterful expressions of Christian faith.
St. Cyril is also remembered for his exhaustive Biblical knowledge, and his endurance in the face of misunderstanding and opposition. Eastern Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians, who likewise celebrate him as a saint on March 18, also remember him on May 7 – the date of a miraculous apparition said to have occurred soon after his consecration as a bishop.
Cyril was most likely born in Jerusalem around the year 315, shortly after the legalization of Christianity throughout the Roman Empire.
Although that legalization put a stop to many of the persecutions that threatened the Church for two centuries, it indirectly gave rise to a number of internal controversies – both in regard to theology, and the jurisdiction of bishops – in which Cyril would find himself involved.
Cyril received an excellent education in classical Greek literature as well as the Bible. He was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Maximus of Jerusalem, and succeeded him as bishop in 348.
During his early years as a bishop, most likely around 350, he delivered a series of lectures to new initiates of the Catholic Church. Twenty-four of the lectures have survived and are studied today.
In a 2007 general audience, Pope Benedict XVI praised the saint for providing an “integral” form of Christian instruction, “involving body, soul, and spirit.” St. Cyril's teaching, the Pope said, “remains emblematic for the catechetical formation of Christians today.
In 351, three years after Cyril became the Bishop of Jerusalem, a large cross-shaped light appeared for several hours in the sky over the city – an event that many interpreted as a sign of the Church's triumph over heresy. It could also, however, be understood as a sign of the suffering the new bishop would undergo in leading his flock.
Unlike many other Eastern bishops and priests of the fourth century, Cyril did not allow his classical learning to lead him away from believing in the full humanity and divinity of Christ.
However, the man who consecrated Cyril as a bishop, Archbishop Acacius of Caesarea, was an ally of the Arians – who claimed that Jesus was a creature and not God. Because of his connection to the archbishop, Cyril himself was unjustly suspected of heresy by many of his brother bishops.
But he also found himself at odds with Archbishop Acacius, who claimed to have jurisdiction over the birthplace of the Church. Altogether, these disputes led to Cyril being exiled from Jerusalem three times in the course of 20 years, with his longest exile lasting more than a decade.
Eventually, however, the Eastern bishops came to acknowledge Cyril's orthodoxy and legitimacy as a bishop – both of which they confirmed in a letter to the Pope in Rome, in which they also expressed their admiration of his pastoral efforts.
In 381, St. Cyril participated in the Second Ecumenical Council, which condemned two different forms of Arianism and added statements about the Holy Spirit to the Nicene Creed of 325. St. Cyril of Jerusalem died in 387, and was named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Leo XIII in 1883.
Vatican City, Mar 13, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Although many people reject the notion of sin, it is a reality of life, said Pope Benedict XVI at Sunday's Angelus. He encouraged believers to join with Christ in "spiritual combat" during Lent.
Despite a steady rain, thousands of pilgrims were present in St. Peter's Square to pray the Angelus with the Pope on March 13, the first Sunday of Lent. A group of motorcyclists greeted him from the street with a chorus of honks.
The 40 days of Lent constitute a time of spiritual preparation for Easter, of following Jesus to the "culmination of his mission of salvation" in his death on the cross, said the Pope.
Lent and the cross exist "because evil exists," he said. And although many do not accept the term "sin" for offering a religious vision of the world and humanity, sin is "the profound cause of every evil," he explained.
"In fact," said the Pope, "it is true: if God is eliminated from the horizons of the world, one can no longer speak of sin."
He compared humanity's sense of sin to a shadow that only exists in the presence of the sun, and disappears when the sun is hidden. In such a way, he said, "the eclipse of God brings with it necessarily the eclipse of sin."
"Therefore the sense of sin - which is different from the 'sense of guilt' as psychology understands it - is acquired, rediscovering the sense of God."
The Pope said that King David's Psalm 51, a prayer of repentance written after he committed both adultery and homicide, expresses this sense.
"Against you only have I sinned," David tells God.
God's attitude is one of opposing the sin while saving the sinner, said the Pope. "God does not tolerate evil, because he is love, justice and fidelity – and precisely for this he does not want the death of the sinner, but that he may repent and live."
He observed that God's saving intervention in human history has been evident from the time of the ancient Jews' liberation from slavery in Egypt. "God is determined to liberate his children from slavery," he reflected, "to guide them to freedom."
"And the most serious and most profound slavery is precisely that of sin. For this, God sent his son to the world: to liberate men from the dominion of Satan, 'origin and cause of every sin'."
"He sent him in our mortal flesh so that he might become a victim of expiation, dying for us on the cross."
"Against this plan of definitive and universal salvation, the devil is opposed with all his strength, as demonstrated particularly in the Gospel of the temptation of Jesus in the desert, which is proclaimed every year on the first Sunday of Lent," said the Pope.
"In fact, entering into this liturgical time means aligning oneself with Christ every time against sin – facing, both as individuals and the Church, the spiritual combat against the spirit of evil."
Pope Benedict invoked the assistance of Mary so that Lent might be "rich with the fruits of conversion." He asked for special prayer for himself and members of the Roman Curia as they begin their Lenten exercises.
Carmelite theologian and professor, Fr. Francois-Marie Lethel, is leading the March 13-19 exercises this year on the theme "The Light of Christ in the Heart of the Church - John Paul II and the Theology of the Saints."
After the Angelus prayer, the Pope remembered the victims of the earthquake and consequent tsunami this week in Japan. He encouraged those working in emergency response and asked the faithful to join him in praying for the victims.