All posts tagged: priesthood

Sex and Symbol

I was reared in the cradle of Evangelical Protestantism. I passed from girlhood to womanhood in that world, and during the tumult of puberty an increasing awareness of my unruly female body introduced me to the contested terrain of “womanhood” itself. What is a woman? What is her place? What are her gifts and limits? In an Evangelical context, such discussions and demarcations focused primarily on the concept of roles. What is it that woman is supposed to do? Or, more to the point, what is she not supposed to do? I was something of a tomboy, with bushy eyebrows and generous facial hair. I was competitive, but also tenderhearted. I anthropomorphized everything, in accordance with the stereotypes of my sex, but I enjoyed doing boyish things. I loved sports. I wanted to be fast. I wanted to win. On the sports field, there seemed to be no limits. But lines were drawn starkly in church. A woman’s role, her task, was to be a helpmeet to her husband and care for her children. The …

Where Does the Ministry End and the Apostolate Begin?

Words Matter The words that we use connect to concepts, which, in turn, connect to the way we live our lives.[1] So, it is important to have clear and correct understanding of our words in order to promote right living. With all this in mind, I would like to explore two terms—ministry and apostolate—that we frequently encounter while working for the Church and how our understanding of these terms has pervasive effects on the work we do. For example, think of how we use 3D glasses. One can attempt to watch a 3D movie without 3D glasses, and the images will be blurry. One may, more or less, be able to make the images out, and even follow the movie, but clarity and detail will be lacking, critical elements may be missed, and the overall experience of the movie will be subpar. However, upon putting on the glasses the images become crystal-clear and show up in three-dimensional relief, and one will have a much better chance at experiencing the movie as intended. Just so, a …

Abp. Fulton Sheen’s Eucharistic Spirituality

Perhaps no other prelate in the history of the United States could rival the positive impact of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen (1895 – 1979) upon the work of evangelization in the United States. A household name in Catholic and non-Christian households alike, Sheen authored approximately 70 books in his lifetime, and he captivated millions of Americans through his newspaper columns and broadcasts on radio and television in the 1930’s, 40’s, and 50’s. It was not unusual for the mail he received to average 15,000 to 25,000 letters per day,[1] and it was estimated that thirty million people, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, tuned in to his programming each week.[2] His message was both simple and profound: Jesus Christ must be at the center of everything. To what can we attribute Sheen’s success in proclaiming the Gospel in his work toward revitalizing the religious landscape of the United States? The key to Sheen’s success was his profound Eucharistic spirituality. We will focus on two things: 1) providing an introduction to Sheen’s Eucharistic spirituality by demonstrating the central …

The Annunciation and Vocational Fear

  Mary said: My soul is deeply troubled; what can this greeting mean? Am I to give birth to my king and yet remain a virgin forever? –Antiphon for Daytime Prayer, Advent I prayed these words most days last Advent. It looked like my bishop would be ordaining me as a deacon this May. At least for diocesan seminarians, at diaconate we make our lifelong promises to be celibate, obedient and faithful to the Liturgy of the Hours. It comes up fast and raises a lot of questions. Is it commitment possible and worth the risk? Mary’s heart was full of questions—Luke’s gospel and this suggest as much. These are not necessarily questions of pious wonder:  she was deeply troubled, utterly unaware of how this Annunciation was going to happen or what might happen as a result. This year Church observes the Annunciation on April 9 because March 25 fell on Palm Sunday. Palm Sunday evokes Abraham, who was willing to offer his son. Both Abraham and Mary show us how to approach celibacy, commitment …

Everything Looks Different After Priestly Ordination

Since my priestly ordination, one of my favorite liturgical texts has become the Office of Readings for Bl. Miguel Pro, the Mexican Jesuit martyred for clandestinely administering sacraments to persecuted Catholics. Cobbled together from letters written shortly before his arrest, the reading centers on Pro’s amazement at the change wrought in him by the priesthood. Pro writes to a friend, “Everything begins to look different [after ordination], everything is seen from another angle, everything is shaped by wider, more generous, more spiritual horizons. You will not be the same as before: something more is going to flood your soul and change it.”  But lest his friend expect an instantaneous and effortless transformation, Pro adds, “I did not notice this change until I found myself in touch with souls . . . God our Lord chose to use me as his instrument to do good.” The priesthood for Pro was like seed planted once for all in his heart, yet requiring ministerial contact to flower in his imagination. That this would be the case for Pro, …

An Interview with Rev. Stephen Giannini

The following interview with Rev. Stephen Giannini, of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, appears in conjunction with the second annual John M. D’Arcy Program in Priestly Renewal happening this week at the McGrath Institute for Church life on Notre Dame’s Campus. Rev. Stephen Giannini was a participant in last year’s inaugural John M. D’Arcy program. Rev. Giannini was ordained for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis on June 5, 1993. Currently serving as pastor of Ss. Francis & Clare of Assisi Church, Greenwood, Indiana, he also serves as an associate judge for the Metropolitan Tribunal, confessor for the Little Sisters of the Poor and Sisters of Loretto at St. Augustine Home, and associate spiritual director at Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary, all in Indianapolis, Indiana.   Note: The following interview has been edited for length and clarity. How do you understand your priestly vocation? As all Christians are called to love God and to love their neighbor, I believe that the priestly vocation lives out this command through celebrating/officiating at Sacraments; teaching/preaching the Good News; and being a …

Priestly Renewal at Notre Dame

While John Paul II is perhaps best known for his role in the collapse of the Communist bloc in Eastern Europe or for what is popularly referred to as the “Theology of the Body,” the case can be made that his Apostolic Exhortation of 1992, Pastores Dabo Vobis, has in fact affected the lives of most Catholics throughout the world in even more significant ways.  For in that document, the now sainted Holy Father laid out a vision for the formation (note, not merely education) of priests, and this radically revamped the way seminaries prepare men for ordained service.  He spoke of formation not merely in terms of theological education (what might be called intellectual formation) but also in terms of spiritual, pastoral, and human formation.  This in turn reshaped the way seminaries function and work to prepare men for ordained ministry.  This past December, the Congregation for the Clergy issued a new Ratio Fundamentalis, or basic schema, for the formation of priests.  It too speaks very much of the training of priests in terms …

Practices of Priesthood

I have been quite fortunate in my twenty-three years of priesthood to have known some superb role models of priestly life and sacerdotal zeal; unsurprisingly, most of them are older than I am, but in fact a few of them are younger. And the lessons I have learned from them in terms of pastoral fruitfulness can, I think, be boiled down to four simple—stunningly simple—principles. Now I say “fruitfulness” rather than “success” not merely out of deference to Blessed Mother Teresa, whose advice was, quite similarly, “worry about being faithful, not successful,” but also because the language of success carries the baggage of a secular business model and I am not entirely persuaded that the Church at all benefits, least of all unwittingly, from shaping its life around the corporate paradigm; a crucifix is not, after all, an image of efficiency, productivity, or success. What are these four stunningly simple principles of pastoral fruitfulness? In short: Show Up, Smile, Work Hard, and Be Nice to People. Of course these lessons could be offered by almost any …