Highlights from the Notre Dame “Liturgy and Vocations” Symposium

This week I’ve had the pleasure of attending the Notre Dame Center for Liturgy‘s annual summer symposium, focusing this year on “Liturgy and Vocation.” This was my first time attending the symposium — indeed, my first time on the campus of Notre Dame — and I was delighted by the rich conversations that matched pressing pastoral questions with deep theological insights.

(Next year’s topic will be Liturgy and the New Evangelization — I would highly recommend attending!)

The symposium began on Tuesday evening with Msgr. Michael Heintz. His address on “Liturgy and Vocation” set the stage for the remaining general sessions and afternoon seminars:

The second general session by Dr. Brant Pitre was a whirlwind tour of nuptial imagery in the Bible, based in large part on his book Jesus the Bridegroom: The Greatest Love Story Ever Told.

On Wednesday Dr. Chad Pecknold of CUA spoke about the social and political dimensions of marriage and the priesthood, rooting his talk in St. Augustine’s image of the two cites.

Finally, on Thursday, Dr. Holly Taylor Coolman helped us to reflect on the nature of icons in order to practice seeing marriage and ordination as icons of Christ’s love.

These highlights don’t even touch the panel discussion on marriage and priestly formation or the two-day afternoon seminar on marriage prep that I attended — I’ll share more on them next week. In the meantime you can browse all the live-tweeting from the event by following the #NDSymposium2015 hashtag.

Thanks to Timothy O’Malley for inviting me to the symposium and for the gracious hospitality extended by the staff of the NDCL. I look forward to attending more Center for Liturgy events in the future!

The Priesthood Question

As a young lay man working for the Church — and I have no reason to believe that I am unique in this — I am often asked, in job interviews and when I tell people what I do, if I had ever considered the priesthood.

It’s an honest question, and one I don’t mind answering, but it definitely belies a certain attitude that if you’re male and interested in “churchy” stuff, then you must be called to the priesthood.

The truth is that I’ve never felt called to the ministerial priesthood. I thought about it when I was very little, in the same way I thought it would be cool to be an astronaut or doctor, but at no point did I ever feel the tug on my heart. Similarly, I was never told by anyone that I would make a good priest “ except for one priest, right after I had asked him to celebrate my wedding Mass. (I don’t feel slighted in this; I don’t think I would make a good priest!)

At the same time there have been times during my theological studies when I asked myself if I shouldn’t have been more interested in the priesthood. Knowing that the Church is in need of priests, should I have at least “tried it on” by going to a seminary? With the need so great, wouldn’t the Church have been better off with me as a “bad priest” than as a “good lay man?”

The answer, of course, is no. I am quite certain that God has put me where he needs me to be right now.

And it’s not as if my life won’t contribute to the priesthood. My wife and I get comments on a regular basis that our two oldest boys would make good priests. And a month or so ago my wife and I found out that our fifth child, due in September, will be our fourth boy. We were disappointed at first — we had been hoping for another little girl — but I’m beginning to wonder if this, too, isn’t part of God’s plan for me and priesthood.

Maybe I’m not being called to the priesthood, but it sure seems as if I’m being called to raise sons for the priesthood.

Episode 006 – Parents and the Priesthood

006This episode is a little different. Instead of an interview it features a talk given by Fr. Andrew Carl Wisdom, O.P., to a group of DREs last year. In it he talks about some of the fears shared by the parents he talks to as their sons discern a vocation to the priesthood.

Fr. Wisdom is the promoter of vocations for the Dominican Province of St. Albert the Great. He is also author of the pamphlet Why Should I Encourage My Son To Be A Priest? and the book Advent and Christmas Wisdom from St. Thomas Aquinas.

Click to Play – 006 – Parents and the Priesthood

“Nothing less is expected of us as priests…”

This past Saturday our diocese ordained two men to the sacred priesthood. More specifically, His Eminence Francis Cardinal George of Chicago ordained the men as our diocese awaits the installation of Bishop Paprocki on June 22.

Rev. Msgr. Carl Kemme, our diocesan administrator, delivered the homily and I have to say: it probably ranks in the top five homilies I have ever heard and is the most moving reflection on the priesthood I can remember. Here’s a short sound bite:

To my brother priests in this presbyterate I want and need to invite something very important from us. These men to be ordained are a gift to us, gifts not to be taken for granted, but cherished and honored. It behooves us to offer them and those who come after them, in union with our bishop and his successors, a presbyterate that is healthy, supportive and joyful. To that end, I would humbly submit that we have work to do. We cannot afford to allow them or any of us, to be subject to the destructive forces strong in our world today, which have gripped far too many priests in our church, the evil that is isolation, the inclination to cynicism, or the abandonment of the hopes and dreams of the Church for us, in exchange for spiritual apathy and moral indifference. Rather, with courage and love we must invite them and ourselves to stand firm in the faith, to unite in a stronger bond of prayerful and priestly fraternity and to together become saints for nothing less is expected of us as priests after the mind and heart of the Good Shepherd.

My estimable friend Fr. Daren Zehnle has the complete homily posted on his blog. It is definitely worth the read.