Category Archives: vocations

Adopt-a-Seminarian: A Bitter Sweet Story

Before our move two months ago, I prayed that we could live near our parish so that we could have our Pastor or priests interact with our family and basically be like family.  Todd and I have a strong devotion to pray for the priesthood, after all we created 40 Days for Priests, and pray that we are blessed with at least one if not many vocations!  When I grow up, I want to be like this mom who had ten children and they all became a priest or a nun and one even a Bishop!  Can you imagine that?  We pray this prayer for the vocation of my children all of the time.

Here they are with Pope John XXIII:

Ask and you shall receive:

We have had the wonderful opportunity to help a Seminarian friend of ours names Allan learn English.  He is from Brazil and needs to learn the language to be able to attend Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary this Fall.  We have been working with him for almost four weeks now.  Every weekend, Todd picks him up on Saturday mornings and Allan stays at our home all day, eats lunch and dinner with us and then he goes back to the Rectory.  Same thing happens on Sundays and on a couple occasions, we got him to come over during the week.  It has been a total honor and privilege to help this holy young man learn English and for such an amazing cause!  {By the way he blogs over at Vida Sacerdotal if you want to pay him a visit, it is in Portuguese though}
Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary
BUT he is such a handful!  He’s funny, knowledgeable in the Faith, and he loves children…to us he is like having a living saint at our home.  My children simply adore him!  I think God works in mysterious ways…and His plans are so perfect.  Allan’s presence in our home has been a total blessing.  I think we have been the ones to thank him for the opportunity to help him learn English and for teaching us so much more!

This week Allan leaves to Nebraska and we aren’t sure when it will be the next time we get to see him.  I *know* we are all going to cry (bitter sweet tears) when we last see him this coming Thursday morning after Ascension Thursday Mass.  You see Allan has become part of our family. 

I’d like so share some pictures of our time together with him:
my kids adore him!

this was Allan’s idea…just so you can get a gist of his personality :p

he really enjoyed our walk in the park/woods

St. Francis look alike :p

yes that is a seminarian in a cassock riding a skateboard down my street!

Allan sitting on our front porch
What do you think?  Can we find a better way to foster vocations with our children?  I don’t think so I like this new “program” of temporarily adopting a seminarian.  🙂
Allan, you will be in our prayers and missed dearly but know that you have five littles ones praying for you constantly!  We love you!

Friends, can I beg you for prayers for Allan?  Thank you!

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Prayer Tips from a Carmelite Sister

My teaching journey has a great little story, I first became associated with education via a Catholic School when I was mistakenly placed in an Introduction to Education class. See I had to do some service hours to see if Education was for me (I was an Accounting Major at the time so imagine how obsured this sounded at the ripe age of 20). So my first experience with classroom education (not counting my time in Youth Ministry) was in a second grade classroom with Sister Maria Kolbe. Sister Maria Kolbe was a small woman with a ginormous smile! She walked in the room and it lit u! Thanks to her and much prayer, I changed majors…though she was trying to talk me into becoming a nun…that didn’t work out but becoming a teacher like her did! 😉 


Through her I also learned about Carmelite Spirituality and I continued my journey with St. Therese of Liseux (wish me a “Dia de mi Santo”, day of my Saint Name, please it was on October 3rd), my Confirmation name! I’ve read many of her beautiful and sweet books…I become enthralled by them actually. I’ve read Story of a Soul about four times and every time I learn a new lesson – it is no wonder that she was made Doctor of the Church! Last night I was trolling the internet and I bumped into this great article by non-other than the same sisters that were at the Catholic School were my teaching journey commenced! Here are some great prayer tips from a Carmelite Sister:

Ask a Carmelite Sister…

Question: Dear Sister, My prayer experiences don’t seem good enough or holy enough, long enough or intense enough. Do you have any suggestions as to how I can pray better?

Answer: Dear Friend, Yes, I do have a few suggestions. That’s easy…

First of all, I suggest not using the expression “prayer experiences” at all. Hit the delete button on that one. A lot of people tend to speak about their prayer experiences. To me, it’s not the best choice of words. I believe that to use the expression “prayer experience” lessens, or taints my prayer. Prayer isn’t just “an experience.” It is so much more.

I actually went to the dictionary to check out the word “experience” in order to respond to this question and was amazed to see the long list of definitions:

  1. involvement in something over time.
  2. knowledge or skill that is acquired.
  3. the sum total of somebody’s experiences
  4. something that happens to somebody
  5. knowledge from observation.
  6. to have personal knowledge of something
  7. to feel something.

All these definitions are right and good – in their proper place, but not for a description or explanation of prayer. Why?

To Carmelites, prayer is relationship. It is time spent with Someone you love. It is that coming to know Another in a deeper way – to pray is to speak and then to listen; to communicate on a more personal and profound level and to grow in understanding, respect and appreciation of the other. St. Teresa of Avila puts it this way. “Prayer is nothing else than an intimate friendship, a frequent heart-to-heart conversation with Him, Who we know loves us” (Life, viii).

Not good enough or holy enough? Not long enough or intense enough? It is one way of looking at it, but it makes me think of asking you a question. What does love look like? Does it not have a thousand faces? The face of love can sit quietly in sorrow, sympathy and compassion. Or it can radiate with joy and laughter and grimace in steadfast, faithful determination. When someone truly falls in love, I don’t think there should be, or are, such questions. They minimize and actually detract from the power of loving. To be with, to share with, to companion the One you love is love. Love is more than an experience. Well, love is love.

This same concept can be applied to prayer. God and I, as impossible as it seems and as unworthy as I see myself, can be in relationship – just as any person to another. It is mind-boggling to think about. It is actually THE relationship for which I was created. The Baltimore Catechism put it this way.

Q.  Why did God make you?
A.  God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world and to be happy with Him in the next.

That is a very personal answer, it seems to me. It summarizes the reason for our existence. I am reminded of a phrase in our profession of vows when we make our perpetual profession to God. The entire formula of vows is very beautiful, but the expression that comes to mind right now is the following – “in intimacy with God through prayer.” Yes, that’s it. That says it.

There is a four volume book set, Divine Intimacy by Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene, OCD. It is a Carmelite classic on prayer. The original was one thick book and has now been broken down into the four volume set. Note the name. It is the same concept; however Father Gabriel doesn’t say Divine Relationship or Divine Friendship. No, his classic goes straight to the core, the height, the goal, which is intimacy. Just to meditate on this thought is a very fruitful meditation.

So, now to come more directly to your question, you don’t need to feel holy, or good, or any feeling. A dad doesn’t feel good getting up before dawn to get ready to go to work. A mom doesn’t feel good about taking care of her children when she herself is ill and would rather be in bed. A nun doesn’t feel so great, either, getting up before dawn to pray. But, ah! This is love. We do this out of our love, for the one we love, and ah! … that also is prayer.

I think we could sum up St. John of the Cross by saying that it is our WILL which chooses, what we see, what we hear, what we do. Our will is at work when we pray. We can will to pray when we don’t feel like it, just as in the examples above of the dad or mom or nun. We’ve heard the expression “suit up and show up.” We can use it, also, for prayer. And if we “suit up and show up” on a daily basis, on both good days and bad days, I would add, that, then, would be a powerful prayer, indeed – the prayer of a friend, who comes to be with God not looking for any gain or consolation, but is content to be with God.

Then, I wouldn’t be surprised if some day, during prayer, you would open your eyes and look at your watch and say, “My God, where did the time go? Can it be that I have been with You so long; it seemed but a few moments.” I can hear St. Teresa of Avila saying, “You are His friend now, His close friend, and He is taking you deeper into Himself in the intimacy with God through prayer. When that happens, the time passes oh so quickly.”

Until next time,

Sister Laus Gloriae, O.C.D.


Send your questions for Sister to asksister@integratedcatholiclife.org.
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I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did.  I love Carmelites (yes I do pray that my one and only daughter is called to become one, shhh….)
Blessings,
Erika

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Promoting Vocations: Newly Ordained in North Carolina

 

Father Voitus

Two great reasons to celebrate in the state of North Carolina this past weekend.  In the Diocese of Charlotte, Bishop Jugis ordained Deacon Voitus and in the Diocese of Raleigh, Bishop Burbidge ordained Deacon Buckler into the priesthood!  Here’s a video of Father Voitus’s ordination:



Rev. Mr. Brendan Buckler.
(Photo from Diocesan website.)

 On Sunday, my family had the great pleasure of attending the First Mass of a newly ordained priest.  We drove a little way (about two and a half hours) to see it but it was truly worth the drive there and back.  The Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form was heavenly to say the least.  There must have been about 20+ priests altogether, some Diocesan, some from orders like the Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP)Father Brendan Buckler was ordained just this past Saturday by Bishop Burbrige of the Diocese of Raleigh.  From their website:

“The Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge will celebrate a Mass of Ordination to the Priesthood for Rev. Mr. Brendan Buckler, Saturday, June 4, 2011, at 10:00 a.m. at Sacred Heart Cathedral In Raleigh. Deacon Buckler, the son of Michael and Carol, graduated from Towson State University in Maryland in 2001. He entered the Diocesan formation program in 2003, completing a pastoral internship year at St. Thomas More Parish in Chapel Hill. In 2004, he attended seminary at Theological College in Washington, completing Philosophy studies. He reentered the formation program in 2007, completing his studies for the Priesthood at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia.

Last June, he was ordained to the Transitional Diaconate before returning for his final year at St. Charles. Bishop Burbidge has announced that upon ordination to the Priesthood, Deacon Buckler will be assigned as Parochial Vicar at St. Catherine of Siena in Wake Forest.”

Here is a video clip of then Deacon, now Father Buckler regarding his call to the priesthood and upcoming ordination:

My boys loved watching all the priests and seminarians before, during, and after Mass.  My six year old got especially excited when they all took a group photo just outside the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart.  He came running to me and smiled from ear to ear, “Mom, I can’t believe that one day I will be having my first Mass and taking a picture with all the guys at the steps of a Cathedral too!”  {mission accomplished, was what I thought, my eyes swelled up with tears to hear my little one utter those words}.  As soon as I find that picture I will post it on here!  🙂



Father Buckler’s First Mass Celebrated at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Raleigh
was done in the Extraordinary Form.  It was a Solemn High Mass.



Congratulations to Both Dioceses and to Fathers Buckler and Voitus!

Please join me in praying for these two Holy Men of God!:

A PRAYER FOR PRIESTS
By the late John J Cardinal Carberry
Keep them; I pray Thee, dearest Lord.
Keep them, for they are Thine
The priests whose lives burn out before
Thy consecrated shrine.
Keep them, for they are in the world,
Though from the world apart.
When earthly pleasures tempt, allure —
Shelter them in Thy heart.
Keep them and comfort them in hours
Of loneliness and pain,
When all their life of sacrifice
For souls seems but in vain.
Keep them and remember, Lord,
they have no one but Thee.
Yet, they have only human hearts,
With human frailty.
Keep them as spotless as the Host,
That daily they caress;
Their every thought and word and deed,
Deign, dearest Lord, to bless.

Want to learn more about the Extraordinary Form of the Mass?  Visit Father Z!  🙂

Blessings,
Mama Erika

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Happy Mother’s Day!

“Dear God, give me the grace to appreciate the dignity of motherhood, which Thou hast been pleased to bestow upon me, and to fulfill its duties according to Thy Will. By my prayers and good example, may I lead my husband and my children closer to Thy Sacred Heart. Make me a devoted wife to my husband and a good mother to my children after the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Almighty God, I thank Thee for the blessed care and protection with which Thou hast embraced my family. I humbly submit to Thy decrees and resign myself to Thy Divine Providence. I grasp Thy guiding hand, and I shall never follow my own ways lest they lead me astray. Thy good pleasure shall be my happiness; Thy commandments shall be my only rule of conduct. Thy Will shall be my will, and Thy service shall be the object of all my desires.

Lord, grant me peace of mind because of my trust in Thy Providence, an unwavering and cheerful courage founded on my faith in Thy tremendous love, faithfulness to duty resulting from a constant awareness of Thy presence, and a firm hope of eternal reward.

Through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I implore Thy blessing upon my family that we all may serve Thee faithfully in this life and deserve to be reunited in the eternal happiness of Thy heavenly Kingdom. Amen.”

Happy Mother’s Day to all of friends!
Love,
Erika, Cristina & Kristy!

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How to Foster Vocations

I found this fantastic article entitled: Seven Quick Takes: How to Foster Vocations and thought that our RLS followers would also enjoy it. My favorite suggestion has to be the one that says to stop asking children what they want to be when they grow up and instead ask, “Who is God calling you to be?” We don’t push for the religious life at our home **wink** (though deep in me I’d be the happiest mother in the world if all of our children became priests and nuns; though DH says he’d like one boy to keep the family name going), but instead we are active about discussing this as an option, just like marriage. So in today’s post, I’d like to focus on promoting vocations to the religious life.

In our home these are some of the ways we foster vocations:
1. All boys whom have received First Holy Communion, train to serve at the Altar. Our eldest knows most of all the positions to serve at the Latin Mass and just today we asked our Associate if he would train him to serve in the Novus Ordo…he will be trained this Spring and ready to serve ASAP (since our Latin Mass was moved 50 minutes North of us)

2. We are friendly with our priests and make it a custom to say hello and encourage the children to speak with them as well. We also invite priests over for dinner (which reminds me we need to invite our new associate to dinner-wonder what his favorite is?). We encourage the children to draw pictures or make them simple cards through out the year and for special days.

3. We have a card that our Diocese publishes with the names and pictures of all the seminarians in our Diocese. This card sits at our Home Altar and we say special prayers for them to Our Lady of Perpetual Help as we have commend them to her guidance and aide in these difficult times of our Mother Church.

4. We use technology to promote vocations. For example, we love to pray the Rosary with a DVD of Mother Angelica and her nuns…my kids have asked (especially my daughter) tons of questions while watching them pray the Rosary. We also love to surf the internet and find recordings of Ordinations and Solemn Professions. =) Movies/videos of the lives of Saints (religious or not) is also another great way to discuss vocations.

5. We have this really great book called, Could I Paint the Sky (a book I reviewed on CatholicMom.com)…which talks about how you can discern the vocation God has in store for you…again, “who is God calling you to be?”

Have you prayed for our priests and for the increase of vocations? Maybe this could be something your Domestic Church would like to take up for the new year?

So tell us, how do you foster vocations in your homes?

“The pastoral care of vocations needs to involve the entire Christian community in every area of its life. Obviously, this pastoral work on all levels also includes exploring the matter with families, which are often indifferent or even opposed to the idea of a priestly vocation. Families should generously embrace the gift of life and bring up their children to be open to doing God’s will. In a word, they must have the courage to set before young people the radical decision to follow Christ, showing them how deeply rewarding it is.” Pope Benedict XVI (Sacramentum Caritatis, 25)

Vocations Websites & Blogs

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Catholic Mom Book Club Columnist

I’m super excited to share that I was asked by Lisa Hendey (the author of The Handbook for Catholic Moms) to join the Catholic Mom team and become a book club columnist for them! Also, I’ve also written my first book review and I wanted to share it with you:

Could I Paint the Sky?
By Julie Hoy
Oregon Catholic Press, 2010

Could I Paint the Sky? by Catholic author Julie Hoy is a book about a small child’s inquisitive nature as well as her amazing love for God and her willingness to serve Him!

The main character, Madeline Judith, wants to help God do something really big and asks Him if she could help Him paint the sky? As big a task as it is, she asks and asks again (I love her persistence) but then one day God says “no” and the child is puzzled. Many of us (adults) have experienced when God in His infinite wisdom says “no” to us… in the end there is always a reason and usually a good one at that!

With some parental guidance, Madeline is reminded that we can serve the Lord in the small things we do everyday by picking up after ourselves in our homes to helping our neighbors, the elderly, etc. I love how this small child goes to her mother for help and advice. In addition, this book just overflows with the message of being merciful in a world that contradicts that! What kept coming to mind as I read this book were the words of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, “Do small things with BIG love!”

To read the rest of my review, visit CatholicMom.com by just clicking here.

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New EWTN Show for Catholic Moms!

“Everyday Blessings for Catholic Moms” is the new show on EWTN hosted by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle. I’ve blogged about her wonderful books on here in the past and wanted to share this news with you! You can read more about this great experience on her blog by clicking here. You can also read up on the show on Faith & Family Live, written by Lisa Henley (creator of CatholicMom.com and an author herself, The Handbook for Catholic Moms) by going here. I can’t wait to watch the show myself…her books are fascinating (I’m reading two right now: One with a local group of moms Domestic Church: Room by Room and the other Prayerfully Expecting on my own since I’m 7 weeks away from seeing our new baby!). She is such a great Catholic mother and woman!

Thanks, Donna-Marie, for your devotion and for guiding us in the beautiful vocation of motherhood.

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Coloring Contest

If you visit this site (click on the title of this post, you can download a high quality poster (like the one in this post) which your children ages zero (yes, your babies) and up can enter over at http://www.illuminatedink.com/. There are several levels for age entries in the contest (see their site). What is really neat about this coloring page is that parents can also download an explanation of all the pictures within it and its symbolism. The deadline isn’t until next year but you can do it as a summer activity or incorporate it to your Religion Class in the Fall. Have fun coloring! Join me in praying for our priests!
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Fishers of Men


Click on the image above to visit the USCCB and see the newly ordained. PLEASE join me in praying for them!

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

“I attribute my vocation to the witness of many good priests that I have met and the prayers of dedicated religious sisters. Without the witness of those many good priests in my life and the graces received through the prayers of cloistered Carmelite sisters, I would probably not have considered a vocation to the priesthood.
Father Aaron Ferris
Diocese of Grand Rapids

“People would be surprised to know that I have a regular story. Played high school sports…some baseball in College. Always liked going to Mass. Have a strong love for Mary and do not think I would have entered seminary without her maternal love.”
Father Theodore Lange
Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon

“People would be surprised to know that I was encouraged in my vocation to religious life through my experience of Christian fraternity as an undergraduate at the Franciscan University of Steubenville and confirmed in that vocation through the many graces that accompanied my battle with brain cancer.”
Father Jonah Pollock, O.P.
Order of Preachers, Province of St. Joseph

“Christmas of 1987, as I was preparing to receive my First Communion, I learned about the Catholic faith, Jesus’ ministry, and what a vocation to priesthood meant. I remembered telling my Dad about my interest in becoming a priest. My Dad smiled at me and told me to put it into Gods hands.”
Father Quy Vo
Diocese of Albany


To read more quotes, go here.

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Parents Prayer for Vocations

Gracious and loving God
you have blessed us with the privilege of becoming Parents.
We ask that you provide us with all that we need
in accepting this awesome responsibility.

We pray that we will be open to your spirit
who is our source of strength
as we witness to our children
your love for each of them and your desire for them
to be happy and to live a full life.

We ask your help
so we may guide and encourage our children
to believe that they each have a special calling
and to use their gifts and talents for others.

We pray, Heavenly Father,
that our children will discover
and respond enthusiastically to your desire for them
whether it be to the vocation of single, married,
ordained or consecrated life.

We offer this prayer in the name of Jesus
through the grace of the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

-Mrs. Dorothy Foss

I found this lovely prayer on USCCB. Join me in praying for our children and their vocation.

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