From the Pastor: Religious Life is Calling Two (and You?)
In less than two weeks, two of our daily Mass attendees and servers will be heading off for the religious life. They will be going in different directions according to geography and in different directions according to the orders in which they are enrolled but in the same direction according to their ultimate end: union with God.
Ryan Caesar, who sings in our choir at the 10:30 Mass on Sundays, will be joining the Jesuits in Grand Coteau, Louisiana. He will begin by spending a year or two delving deeply into the spiritual life, both his own and Jesuit (Ignatian) Spirituality in general. Traditionally this religious order called the Society of Jesus (that’s where the SJ comes from after the name of a Jesuit) has been both an intellectual and a spiritual powerhouse, protecting, defending and explaining Church teachings through the power of logic, philosophy and theology and, of course, prayer. Through their retreat centers and schools they have taught generations of Catholics how to embrace the fullness of Faith, how to live it in their own state of life, and how to make a union with God something not only for the next world but also for this one! Unfortunately though, in recent decades the Jesuits have become the butt of jokes for their less-than-Catholic weird teachings, spirituality that borders on new age or indifferentism, and all around lack of Catholic identity. On the other hand, there are still many Jesuits who embrace the Truth fully and Ryan will no doubt be one of the good guys.
Eric Talmant, who attends either or both of the Sunday Masses, will be flying to Italy to enter the Benedictine way of life. He will be joining the Benedictine Monks of the Divine Will in Carpegna, Italy. Though the Benedictines are a venerable and ancient order, this particular group is newly formed. According to their woefully inadaquate website (http://www.divinewillmonks.com/), “[T]he monks live a contemplative Benedictine life of work and prayer. The Horarium includes praying the 7 hours of the Divine Office, the Holy Rosary, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, 2 hours of private Eucharistic Adoration daily and Spiritual Reading, with particular attention to the Divine Will writings of the Servant of God, Luisa Piccarreta. All the prayers are done before Jesus exposed in the Blessed Sacrament. The monks are devoted to St. Benedict, St. Scholastica, St. Annibale di Francia and the glorious St. Joseph and are consecrated to the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary.” I know very little about Luisa Piccarreta, but, since one of my men is joining a religious house with a particular devotion to her, I will now make it a higher priority to study her life and writings. I hope you will do the same.
I bluntly asked them what we could do to assist them along the journey to monk and/or priest. Diocesan (or secular) priests (which is what I am) don’t have a community to provide for their needs and so don’t take a vow of poverty, since they need to earn money to pay for much of what they need and own. Even as a seminarian, I still had expenses, including my car (insurance, maintenance, gas, payments), school books, soap and other toiletries, clothing and whatnot. The undergraduate seminarians also have tuition expenses, though those were waived for the graduate students. But both of these men are entering into religious orders, where, unlike me, they will take vows of poverty, owning nothing of their own and relying completely on their superiors to supply for their needs. So my question was, “Do you have any expenses we can help with, or do you need any supplies now or in the coming years? After all, there is no doubt people will want to help you on your vocational journey.” Both men said they need only prayer. Both are extremely limited as to what they can take with them (Ryan mentioned a limit of even 5 or 6 books!) and neither think they will have any expenses in their first year. After they get there and find out for sure, I will update you if that changes, for I know that ideals and reality are often quite different. But as for right now, they simply ask you to pray. Could you perhaps remember them in your daily family rosary? (Men, you are leading your family in a daily rosary, aren’t you?) Could you remember them in your daily Mass, or, if you don’t currently come to daily Mass, could you start for their sakes? Even one single daily Hail Mary as you get out of bed would be of untold value.
And finally, for all the other men or women of the parish who are contemplating a religious life, know that you are not alone. These men are taking the plunge. They will spend years discerning, along with and from within their respective communities, if it is God’s will for them to stay and continue. Follow their example. Be courageous. It’s worth it!
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka