+ Contact the Vocation Office to learn more about life as a monk at St. Vincent Archabbey 724.532.6655 +

July 31, 2013

Pope Benedict XVI's Message for the World Day of Prayer for Vocations (2006)

Theme: Vocation in the Mystery of the Church

In order to respond to the call of God and start on our journey, it is not necessary to be already perfect. We know that the prodigal son’s awareness
of his own sin allowed him to set out on his return journey and thus feel the joy of reconciliation with the Father. Weaknesses and human limitations do not present an obstacle, as long as they help make us more aware of the fact that we are in need of the redeeming grace of Christ. This is the experience of St Paul who confessed: “I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Cor 12,9). In the mystery of the Church, the mystical Body of Christ, the divine power of love changes the heart of man, making him able to communicate the love of God to his brothers and sisters. Throughout the centuries many men and women, transformed by divine love, have consecrated their lives to the cause of the Kingdom. Already on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, many allowed themselves to be won by Jesus: they were in search of healing in body or spirit, and they were touched by the power of his grace. Others were chosen personally by Him and became his apostles. We also find some, like Mary Magdalene and others, who followed him on their own initiative, simply out of love. Like the disciple John, they too found a special place in his heart. These men and women, who knew the mystery of the love of the Father through Jesus, represent the variety of vocations which have always been present in the Church. The model of one called to give witness in a particular manner to the love of God, is Mary, the Mother of Jesus, who in her pilgrimage of faith is directly associated with the mystery of the Incarnation and Redemption.

To Read the Holy Father's entire message: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/messages/vocations/documents/hf_ben-xvi_mes_20060305_xliii-vocations_en.html

July 30, 2013

Eternal Silence

This photo of the Archabbey Basilica was taken at Sunset by Br. Max.

The life of a Monk is about cultivating an interior silence, for the land of silence is our means of surrender. The peacefulness, stillness and silence captured in this photograph reminds me of a passage from Into the Silent Land by Martin Laird:  

St. John of the Cross said, "Our greatest need is to be silent before this Great God, ... for the only language he hears is the silent language of love".  Silence is an urgent necessity for us; silence is necessary if we are to hear God speaking in eternal silence; our own silence is necessary if God is to hear us.  Silence is necessary because, as Maggie Ross boldly puts it, "Salvation is about silence."  

July 27, 2013

Pope Francis' Powerful Message to Monks & Seminarians (Part 3 of 3)

Vatican City, 

Here is a translation of Pope Francis’ address to the participants of the meeting on Saturday with seminarians, novices and young people on their vocation path who took part in the Year of Faith pilgrimage entitled “I Trust in You”.

Part 3 of 3
And here I would like to stress the importance, in community life, of the relations of friendship and fraternity that are an integral part of this formation. Here we arrive at another problem. Why do I talk about relations of friendship and fraternity? So many times I’ve found communities, seminarians, Religious or diocesan communities where the most common short prayer is gossip! It’s terrible! They “skin” one another … And this is our clerical, religious world …Excuse me, but it’s common: jealousy, envy, to speak badly of another. Not just speaking badly of superiors, this is classic! But I tell you that this is so common, so common. I have also fallen into this. I’ve done it so many times, so many times! And I’m ashamed! I’m ashamed of this! It’s not right to do so: to go and gossip. “Have you heard … Have you heard …” But such a community is a hell! This does no good. And because of this, the relation of friendship and of fraternity is
important. Friends are few. The Bible says this: friends, one, two … But fraternity among all. If I have something against a sister or a brother, I say it to her/his face, or I say it to her or him who can help, but I don’t say it to others to “soil” him/her. And gossip is terrible! Behind gossip, under gossip, there are envies, jealousies, ambitions. Think of this. Once after spiritual exercises I heard a person – a consecrated person, a nun … This is good! This nun had promised the Lord that she would never speak badly again of another. This is a beautiful, a beautiful path to holiness! Not to speak badly of others. “But, Father, there are problems …”: tell them to the superior, to the bishop, who can remedy it. But do not tell it to him who can’t help.  Fraternity: this is important! But tell me, would you speak badly of your mother, of your father, of your siblings? Never. And why do you do so in consecrated life, in the seminary, in the presbyterial life? This alone: think of it, think of it … Fraternity! This fraternal love.
However, there are two extremes in this aspect of friendship and fraternity, two extremes: both isolation as well as dissipation. A friendship and a fraternity that will help me not to fall into isolation or dissipation. Cultivate friendships, they are a precious good: however, they must educate you not to shut yourselves in but to go out of yourselves. A priest, a man religious, a woman religious can never be an island, but must always be a person ready for encounter.  Friendships the are also enriched  by the different charisms of your Religious Families. It’s a great richness. We think of the beautiful friendships of so many Saints.
I think I must make some cuts, because your patience is great!
[Seminarians: “Noooo!”]
I would like to say to you: go out of yourselves to proclaim the Gospel, but to do this you must go out of yourselves to encounter Jesus. There are two ways out:  one towards the encounter with Jesus, towards transcendence; the other towards others to proclaim Jesus. These two go together. If you just do one, it’s no good. I think of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. This nun was good
… She wasn’t afraid of anything, she went out on the streets … But this woman was also not afraid to kneel down, for two hours, before the Lord. Don’t be afraid to go out of yourselves in prayer and in pastoral action. Be courageous in praying and in going to proclaim the Gospel.
I would like a more missionary Church, one that is not so tranquil. A beautiful Church that goes forward. Over these days so many men and women missionaries have come to the morning Mass, here at Saint Martha’s, and when they greeted me, they’ve said: “But I’m an elderly nun, I’ve been in the Ciad for forty years, I’ve been here and there …” How beautiful! But have you understood that this nun passed these years like this, because she never ceased to encounter Jesus in prayer. It is necessary to go out of oneself, towards transcendence to Jesus in prayer, towards the transcendence of others in the apostolate, in work. Make your contribution to a Church such as this: faithful to the way that Jesus desires. Don’t learn from us, from us who are no longer very young; don’t learn from us that sport that we, the elderly, often engage in: the sport of lament! Don’t learn from us the cult of the complaining goddess.” She is a goddess that is always lamenting. But be positive, cultivate the spiritual life and at the same time, go out, be able to meet people, especially those most scorned and disadvantaged. Don’t be afraid to go against the current. Be contemplatives and missionaries. Have Our Lady always with you, pray the Rosary, please … Don’t abandon it! Always have Our Lady with you in your home, as the Apostle John had her. May she always accompany you and protect you. And pray also for me, because I am also in need of prayer, because I’m a poor sinner, but we go forward.
Thank you so much and we will see one another tomorrow. And go forward with joy, with coherence, always with the courage to tell the truth, the courage to go out of oneself to meet Jesus in prayer and to go out of oneself to meet others and give them the Gospel, with pastoral fruitfulness! Please don’t be “spinsters” and “bachelors.” Go forward!
Now Archbishop Fisichella said that yesterday you recited the Creed, each one in his/her own language. However, we are all brothers, we have the same Father. Now, each one in his/her language, recite the Our Father. Let us recite the Our Father.
[Recitation of the Our Father]
And we also have a Mother. In our own language we say the Hail Mary.
[Recitation of the Hail Mary]
(July 11, 2013) © Innovative Media Inc.

July 26, 2013

Pope Francis' Powerful Message to Monks & Seminarians (Part 2 of 3)

Vatican City, July 10, 2013 
Here is a translation of Pope Francis’ address to the participants of the meeting on Saturday with seminarians, novices and young people on their vocation path who took part in the Year of Faith pilgrimage entitled “I Trust in You”.
 Part 2 of 3
However, I don’t want to embarrass this holy nun [he turns to an elderly nun in the front row] who was behind the barrier, poor thing, she was in fact suffocated, but she had a happy face. It did me good to look at your face, Sister! Perhaps you have many years of consecrated life, but you have beautiful eyes, you smiled, you didn’t complain about the pressure. When you find examples such as this, many, so many nuns, so many priests who are joyful, it’s because they are fruitful, they give life, life, life. They give this life because they find it in Jesus! In the joy of Jesus! Joy, not sadness, pastoral fruitfulness.
To be joyful witnesses of the Gospel we must be genuine, coherent. And this is another word I wish to say to you: authenticity. Jesus so castigated hypocrites: hypocrites, those who think low;
Those who have – to say it clearly, a double face. It doesn’t cost to speak to young people of authenticity, because young people – all of them – have the desire to be authentic, to be coherent. And it makes all of you ill, when you see in us priests who aren’t authentic and nuns who aren’t authentic!
This is, first of all, a responsibility of adults, of formators. It is up to you, formators here present to give an example of coherence to the younger ones. Do we want coherent young people? Let’s us be coherent! Otherwise, the Lord will say to us what he said of the Pharisees to the people of God: “Do what they say, but not what they do!” Coherence and authenticity!
However, you also, in turn, must seek to follow this way. I always say what Saint Francis of Assisi affirmed: Christ has invited us to proclaim the Gospel also with the word. The phrase goes like this: “Proclaim the Gospel always, and, if necessary, with words.” What does this mean? It means to proclaim the Gospel with the authenticity of life, with the coherence of life. However, in this world in which riches do so much evil, it’s necessary that we priests, that we nuns, that all of us be coherent with our poverty! However, when you find that the first concern of an educational, or parochial or any institution is money, this doesn’t do good. It doesn’t do good! It’s incoherent! We must be coherent, authentic. On this path, we do what Saint Francis said: we preach the Gospel with our example, then with words! But first of all is our life in which others must be able to read the Gospel! Here, too, without fear, with our defects which we try to correct, with our limitations which the Lord knows, but also with our generosity in allowing Him to act in us. With our defects, our limitations and – I add something more – with our sins  … I would like to know something: is there someone here in this Room who isn’t a sinner, who has no sins? Let him raise his hand! Let him raise his hand! Nobody. Nobody. From here right down to the end … all! But how do I carry my sin, my sins? I want give you this counsel: be transparent with your confessor, always. Tell him everything; don’t be afraid. “Father, I have sinned!” Think of the Samaritan woman, who to prove, to tell her fellow citizens that she had found the Messiah, said: “He told me everything I’ve done,” and everyone knew this woman’s life. Always tell the truth to your confessor. This transparency will do you good, because it makes one humble, all of us. “But Father, I have continued in this, I’ve done this, I’ve hated” --  no matter what it is. Tell the truth, without concealing, without half words, because you are talking to Jesus in the person of the confessor. And Jesus knows the truth. He alone always forgives you! However, the Lord only wants you to tell him what He already knows. Transparency! It’s sad when one finds a seminarian, a nun who today confesses with this priest to clean the stain; tomorrow goes to another, to  another, to another: a pilgrimage to confessors to conceal her truth. Transparency! It’s Jesus who is listening to you. Always have this transparency before Jesus in the confessor! However, this is a grace. Father, I have sinned,
I’ve done this, this, this … with all the words. And the Lord embraces you, kisses you! Go, and sin no more! And if you fall once again? I say this from experience. I have found so many consecrated persons who fall into this hypocritical trap of lack of transparency. “I’ve done this,” humbly, as that publican who was at the back of the Temple: “I’ve done this, I’ve done this…” And the Lord covers your mouth: He it is who covers it.” But don’t you do so! Have you understood? From sin itself grace abounds! Open the door to grace, with this transparency!

The saints and the masters of the spiritual life tell us that the daily practice of the examination of conscience is very useful, even indispensable, to help us grow in authenticity in our life. What is happening in my soul? Thus, we must be open with the Lord and then with our confessor, with our spiritual Father. This is so important!
Until what time, Archbishop Fisichella, have we time?
[Archbishop Fisichella: If you speak like this, we will be here until tomorrow, absolutely].
You say until tomorrow. Let’s bring a sandwich and a Coca Cola for each one if it’s until tomorrow, at least ….
For our witness to be credible, coherence is essential. But it’s not enough. We also need cultural preparation, I stress cultural preparation, to give the  reason for our faith and our hope. The context in which we live calls constantly for this “giving reason,” and it’s something good, because it helps us to take nothing for granted. Today we can take nothing for granted! This civilization, this culture  … we can’t. However, it’s also certainly timely; it requires good, balanced  formation that unites all the dimensions of life, the human, the spiritual, the intellectual dimension with the pastoral. There are four fundamental pillars in your formation: spiritual formation, that is, the spiritual life; the intellectual life, studying to “give reason”; the apostolic life, to begin to go out to proclaim the Gospel; and fourth, community life. Four. And for the latter it’s necessary that the formation be in community in the novitiate, in the priory, in the seminaries … I always think this: the worst seminary is better than no seminary! Why? Because community life is necessary. Remember the four pillars: spiritual life, intellectual life, apostolic life, and communal life. These four, you should build your vocation on these four.
[Translation by ZENIT]
(July 10, 2013) © Innovative Media Inc.

Fr. Killian's Reflections on Vocations & World Youth Day

St. Vincent College Campus Ministers, Fr. Killian and Fr Jean-Luc, lead students on a pilgrimage to Brazil for World Youth Day!


On Wednesday evening the United States Bishops hosted a conversation on vocations for the Pilgrims from the U.S.A.  I attended the session with Fr. Jean-Luc and our group of students from St. Vincent College.  

The first part of the evening was Contemporary Catholic music with various vocation witnesses. Each speaker represented a different kind of vocation but each had the same message and advice: Be open to a call from God, pray to have the grace to hear and answer the call, and surround yourself with friends who are people of faith, people who will pray for you and       encourage you.

One of the speakers made a Biblical reference to Samuel, who would awake at night when he heard God calling him, although he was not yet familiar with the voice of the Lord.  It was Eli who helped him realize that it wasn't merely a dream but a true call from God.  The youth were encouraged to seek Eli's in their lives who will help them discern if God's call is just a dream or a true call from God. Bishop Edward Burns of Juneau, Alaska then led us in a holy hour of Eucharistic Adoration to pray for vocations.

I am thankful for those in my life who were there to pray for me throughout my time of discernment of religious life, in particular to the several Eli's who helped me realize that my call to Benedictine life was not merely a dream, but God's desire for me.

Pax et Gaudium

O.S.B. Vocation Awareness

O.S.B. Vocation Awareness