Beginning Thursday afternoon, February 22, I participated in a "Here I Am Lord" youth conference at Saint Patrick Parish in St. Charles, IL. I was supposed to be there through tomorrow morning, but the weather influenced my decision to come home early. But not after experiencing a very heart-warming day and a half in my home State.
I found the time heart-warming for two reasons. First, the openness and the enthusiasm of the young people who participated was very impressive. The majority were middle school students (the high school students didn't make it due to a basketball championship game). These youngsters were open to meeting and talking about vocations and about their faith. That is exciting to me.
The other positive piece was the opportunity to meet with other Religious. There were 30 to 40 different Congregations and Orders represented. Men and women Religious of all kinds, each with his/her own community charism and specific way of living the Gospel message of service. Many were fellow Vocation Directors and it is always good to meet with my co-workers in that exciting ministry to our young men and women.
So even though I had to leave early, I thank God for the boost in the arm that the experienced proved to be--and I look forward to returning next year.
Many things may go through our hearts and minds as we prepare for another season of Lent. Maybe we're concerned about what we are going to do for Lent. Maybe we're thinking about what we should give up. Maybe we haven't given Lent any thought at all.
Saint Luke gave us some good pointers last Sunday. In the section we read, Jesus lays down the essential characteristics of being his disciple. These aren't suggestions or nice things we "might" do. Jesus says that these are the heart of discipleship.
And what are they:
1) love your enemies; do good for them
2) treat others as you would like them to treat you
3) be as forgiving and as merciful as God is.
I have a feeling that if we were to meditate on these "qualities of a disciple" that we would have plenty to do this Lent--and many Lents to come. Lent isn't about giving up cookies or candy. It's not about losing weight or watching less TV. Lent is about letting Jesus form his image in us more clearly. Lent is about dying to our selves and rising with Jesus to new life in him.
So what are you going to do this Lent?
Attached is the latest Newsletter fromthe Vocation Office.
The cold and ice are staying around, but all is well.
I'll have to admit that the property is absolutely gorgeous this morning as the sun rises and sparkles off the ice covered trees and buildings. But the storm that passed through here Monday night and yesterday was not very pleasant. Traffic was a mess and about 70,000 people were without electricity as power lines snapped or were feld by falling tree limbs. One of our older trees lost some branches as you can see on the right.
Last evening as we were nearing the end of supper our power failed. We had enough daylight to do the dishes and raid the sacristy for candles which we placed in the corridors and took to our rooms. At 6:30 p.m. we gathered in the television room to "listen" to the news on a radio that picks up TV sound. (Who said we are creatures of habit?!?) In all, the power was off for about three hours only. Part way through that time it came back on for a few minutes but only partly. My ceiling lights worked and the outlets on one side of my room, but the other side was still dead. Eucharist yesterday and this morning was a "private affair" for our community since only one brave soul made it up the hill this morning; no one made it yesterday.
The forecast for today and tomorrow is sunny, but very cold. (Remember how warm it was around Christmas time?)
I just did a report for the Initial Formation Council of our province and decided to share some of the statistics with the Blog readers.
Presently there are 147 men looking into the possibility of joining our province. They range for 13 years of age to 39 with the vast majority in their 20s. The mean (average) age is 24. Fifty of these men have contacted the office within the past five months.
Four of the prospectives are from countries outside the United States with two US citizens doing volunteer work in Jamaica. Thirty-one states are represented in the geographical data with Ohio, Indiana, and Texas boasting double-digit numbers. Florida and Pennsylvania are close behind.
As I posted January 29, (see January 29 post) we have two men approved for Postulancy this year with four others preparing to meet with the Admission Board.
Let's keep praying for the guidance of the Holy Spirit for all men and women discerning a call to serve as a Religious.
Brother Charles writes:
Great blog, father. And congratulations on your new postulants. I and some confreres once built a less grand friar snowman, but, not thinking of your habit idea, used a cable tv cable for the cord, since a white cord wouldn't show up with the snow! Ha! Thanks again.
Barbara found a "fellow religious," so to speak, for Friar Snowman on the Blog. She is Sr. Mary Carrot.
Hey, Fr. Don!
Searching through the blogosphere and I found this blog, Nun Bytes, where they built a "Sister Mary Carrot":
Just thought "Brother Snow" should know he has company in St. Blog's...