Sunday, November 18, 2012

Finding Happiness


In my Philosophy class we are just starting a new reading section on St. Augustine's Confessions. As told by my Professor, Father Thomas Regan SJ, it is "one of the greatest books to ever be written!" So far I am enjoying the themes and topics that St. Augustine presents. So I just wanted to share a few of them in this post.

St. Augustine wrote this book with the main goal of challenging the reader to be an authentic human being and be true to who we are. The book is a story of his life begins when he was a young 19 year old boy and makes promises that he will get his act together.

 St. Augustine became a great student and was excellent at rhetoric (speaking and debating). He was a rich and famous lawyer. He was so good that he could send the innocent to jail and the guilty free. He had everything that he could ever want, girls, money and fame. When he woke up one morning and looked in the mirror, he realized that he had totally forgotten about his goals that he had set for himself back when he was 19. Augustine realizes that he has more money that he knows what to do with, he doesn't really know what happiness is and he has no clue what true love is.

Augustine's Confessions is his story about his past search for happiness and how he came to find the happiness in God, that he always wanted. This book is an excellent story for all college students to read, for one it talks about learning and growth. It explains struggles that we all have and the genuine search for happiness that many end up searching for in all the wrong places. 

As young adults, I feel that it is so easy to be affected by the environments that the world sets up for us. As a result, we forget to be authentic human beings. This is an excellent book to relate to and will help people become who they really want to be. It reminds that only in God can we find the true happiness that we long for.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

To the Young Catholic Voters


The Presidential election is today and what a crazy event it will be! Today will be the very first Presidential election that I get the chance to be a part of. Looking back on the Presidential race as a young voter, it was a very interesting experience looking at candidates, researching what their beliefs about how the country should be run and how they can bring peace and stability to a country hurting after violent events and economic troubles.

As a young Catholic voter it was always intriguing to hear how other first time Catholic voters tried to decide who they would vote for. Some liked candidates because of their appearance, others because of certain candidates views on the legalization of illegal drugs. What was surprising to me however was the how the issue of abortion and pro-life and religious freedom was so distorted by young adult Catholics. Every place I went that issue of abortion was brought up, I was surprised that so many Catholics my age were so misguided about the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It bothered me that young Catholics do not realize that without laws concerning life, no other laws even matter. I think out of any issues right now, the pro-life stance and the defense against the HHS Mandate are the most important for young Catholics to look at while preparing to vote. I feel it it extremely important to look at church teaching, morals and how we want our Catholic church to be run in the future. I urge young people to make good sound moral decisions, not only considering your own life, but also the lives of others. Catholic means universal indicating that we are meant to bring all people together. This being said, we need to work together to protect the sanctity of human life, unite all people and the protect the freedom of religion. The only way we can make sure all these things happen is by voting and by voting particularly as Catholics. 

As the election draws near, I pray that the Holy Spirit may guide the hearts and minds of all those who are voting today that we may grow more closely together as one nation under God.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Authentic Witnesses Drawing Souls to Christ


Fr. Luke Strand, Vocations Director for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and good friend, recently gave a talk about vocations to a women's group dedicated to supporting vocations called the "de Chantal Society" at St. Francis De Sales Seminary. Fr. Luke is such a great role model for me and so many others who continue to discern calls to the Catholic priesthood. I invite you to read Fr. Luke's talk and also encourage anyone you know who is interested in the priesthood, or just would like to talk, to please contact him at lstrand@sfs.edu.

Friday, October 19, 2012

"God Bless America!"- Cardinal Dolan's Benediction at The Al Smith Dinner


A great benediction given by a great leader of our church, Timothy Cardinal Dolan at the 67th Annual Al Smith Dinner last night. Not only should we look at him as a great leader of the church, but we should be encouraged to live with a zest for God, life and the pursuit of happiness just as he does. May we all bring people together just as he did, even if it means bringing those from different government parties. May we also be encouraged to never stop living out our faith.

Does God Exist?




One of the discussions in my Intro to Christian Theology class this week was the question of God's existence. So, its very cool that the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and Bishop Donald J Hying, came out with a new video answering this very question as part of the C4 series during the Year of Faith. Bishop Hying not only answers the question but also gives great examples of God's existence by bringing up different aspects of everyday life to prove his point. Please watch this video and share it with others as part of the New Evangelization and the Year of Faith!



Thursday, October 18, 2012

Demand Your Dignity


Sexual temptation is a huge problem in our world. No longer is sex sacred, but love between a husband and wife is nearly taken out of the picture. That's why it is such a blessing to have teachings on Theology of the Body! Sr. Helena Burns, a sister of the Order of St. Paul, who's mission is to evangelize using media, gave a talk to us on Theology of the Body a few days ago. In her talk, she reminded us about the importance of chastity and abstinence. She said that we have to be the evangelizers to those who struggle with sexual temptation, teaching them the importance of abstinence until marriage,. Surprisingly, girls are more sexually tempted than guys. It is out job to reach out to them and help them, where other guys wouldn't. We can be good counselors and supporters.

Here is a video titled "Demand Your Dignity" made to show girls how important abstaining from sex is. It features guys giving their advice to girls about how they should do their best to live chaste and not give in to sexual temptation. I invite you to watch this video and pass it along to your friends.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Mistake or Lie? Why is Truth So Uncommon When It Comes To Life?



Listening to President Obama talk about Planned Parenthood during the Presidential Debate, I decided to see if what he said was true about Planned Parenthood and  mammograms. Here is what I found on another blog---

La Bocca della Verita on February 6th, 2012-

How Many Mammograms Does Planned Parenthood Perform Each Year?

It turns out the answer is... zero! No one was going to lose access to mammograms because Komen stopped giving Planned Parenthood money, because Planned Parenthood doesn't do any mammograms. There won't be any "sections" of the country where women can no longer get mammograms if Planned Parenthood lacks Komen funding, because Planned Parenthood doesn't do any mammograms

Oops.

UPDATE: Title changed from "provide" to "perform," because Planned Parenthood "provides" screening in that it refers for and may help pay for mammograms. But obviously Komen could just fund the people who are getting the referrals directly without diminishing the availability of screening.----

I found this surprising that our President does not even know what Planned Parent does and then once he finds out, he continues to give the same argument about them. When can people learn to tell the truth?

Free and Easy Way to Learn More About Your Faith!



In addition to my last post which was a response to a question I had received about the Year of Faith, I have decided to post a link about the Catechism of the Catholic Church. For this Year of Faith, Pope Benedict has encouraged us to study and reflect on the Catechism. Here's an easy and free way to do it on this website- http://www.flocknote.com/catechism. Simply enter your email address and you'll start getting a little bit of the Catechism emailed to you every morning. Read that little bit every day and you'll read the whole catechism in a year. What a great way to keep learning about our faith! It is also a great way to evangelize! Please visit and subscribe!

God Bless!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Ask A Seminarian Open Forum Question #1


Just recieved a question from Victor S E Moubarak. Here is what he had to say-
Great idea about the Open Forum. Here's a question, perhaps unfairly aimed at you.

The Year of Faith aims to teach Catholics about Vatican II (50 years on). But in reality, many Catholics and Christians go to church to pray and worship God as best they can. They are not high-minded intellectuals like the priests and bishops who inhabit the Church. To them, Vatican II and gatherings of bishops in synods in Rome are light years away from their daily lives, lived as best they can according to God's Word.

Is the Church risking to confuse/alienate its congregations with a whole year of teachings which may well be above people's heads?

Best wishes and thank you for your vocation.

God bless.

John Bender:

Great Question! The Year of Faith not only teaches about Vatican II, but it also celebrates the very purpose that it tried to make, 50 years ago. The problem that comes up now however, is that everyone has a totally different view on what Vatican II was. The Year of Faith attempts to use the Catechism of the Catholic Church as a tool to teach the faith. Ultimately, the Catechism isn't meant to be over someone's head, but rather, is a means of explaining difficult aspects of faith in a easy to understand form. It is very difficult to sum up the main point of Ecumenical documents and councils, but I will do my best.

 Vatican II came at a time when Blessed Pope John XXIII knew the world had been through two world wars, through persecution and trials, but he knew the church needed a revival. Because of the problems of the world, Catholics tried to live separate from it. Instead of living in our Catholic bubble, Pope John XXIII wanted to revitalize the church and inspire people to bring Christ into the world. What he was referring to was an earlier form of the New Evangelization. No longer should we as Catholics stay within our Catholic bubble, but we should be evangelizing and bringing people to Christ by our example. This means that  the time that simply going to Mass, but then going and hiding our faith when we go to public places, needs to end.

The Catholic faith is constant and unchanging, but we need to present it to a world that is constantly changing. The church wants to present the faith and teachings in new ways that people of today's day and age can understand. and is by no means, trying to confuse people. We need to live out our faith and bring people to a better understanding of it, perhaps through social media and technology which much of the world uses today.  We do not need to be high-intelligent to do this. The Year of Faith attempts to give people a way reflect on how we can present Christ to a world by  not totally dependent on Him. It is not asking us to do anything radically new, but rather continuing to incorporate Christ in our daily lives. The main goal for us by the end of this year is to better understand our faith and become better evangelizers.

I hope this helped.

 God bless you!

Ask a Seminarian Open Forum





Despite being on a Catholic college campus, it is surprising to find out how few people actually know what a seminarian is, let alone a seminary. Of course many who do not know are not Catholic, but even more shocking are Catholics on campus not knowing what we are all about. We receive a lot of questions about seminary life, God, marriage, and even what the differences are between us and the Jesuit seminarians.  (At St. Joseph’s College Seminary we’re not Jesuits but are studying for diocesan priesthood). 

With all of this being said, I want to start an “Ask a Seminarian Open Forum”. By opening this forum, I am inviting everyone and anyone to ask me any questions you have about seminary life, how it feels to be a seminarian, and what are some obstacles and advantages to living in the seminary.  But of course any questions you have Catholicism in general and Catholic stances on world issues would be great, too. You do not have to be Catholic to ask me a question. I will post each question on my blog, along with my response to it in a blog post. I will try to answer each question to the best of my ability as a young man discerning priesthood. So, if you like this idea and have questions for me about anything at all please send me an email atjohnpaulbender23@yahoo.com . I look forward to hearing from you and trying to bring others to a greater understanding of our wonderful Catholic faith and teachings.
God Bless.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Acting like True Christians

On the start day of the Year of Faith, it bothered me to watch two Catholic Vice Presidential Candidates go at it on a debate last night and to watch as one "Catholic" smirked and laughed at another Catholic's ideas and opinions. It bothered me that a "Catholic" man was so rude and disrespectful. It really portrayed how important it is to really live your faith in the open. As Catholics and Christians, we are supposed to be kind, compassionate and respectful to all. After all, Jesus was even to those who disagreed with him. He loved them. Therefore, we should love everyone and to pray for each other too, regardless of who wins. Please pray for our country as we embark on our final weeks before the Presidential election.



Thursday, October 4, 2012

Continuing to Proclaim the Good News



“Lord, You give the great commission: “Heal the sick and preach the Word.”
Lest the Church neglect its mission, and the Gospel go unheard,
Help us witness to Your purpose with renewed integrity,
With the Spirit’s gifts empower us for the work of ministry.

Lord, You call us to Your service: “In My Name baptize and teach.”
That the world may trust Your promise, life abundant meant for each,
Give us all new fervor, draw us closer in community.
With the Spirit’s gifts empower us for the work of ministry.”

                                                         -Jeffery W. Rowthorn (1978)

This is one of my favorite church hymns. As you listen, you can envision Jesus sending out the apostles on a bright morning, the blusterous winds blowing their hair all around; the apostles being strengthened by the Holy Spirit. They are to be sent to preach the Gospel to all the corners of the earth. The apostles were probably not physically prepared, but they did have the confidence and the reassurance of Christ.

This great story should have the same meaning for all of us. When we are thrown into situations where we feel unprepared, we should be re-assured of Christ’s presence at all times. We must be vigilant at all times, ready to preach the Gospel at all costs. With this great mission, we also are aware that many times we will be faced with opposition, many times from our own brothers, our own families and friends. These very people who we least expect ridicule or harm from can try to derail our mission due to misunderstanding, but with steadfast faith, hope and love for our Creator, we shall not be shaken. We shall continue to push forward the mission of Christ and call others to venture closer to him. If one of our brothers or sisters is ridiculing us for doing something to help bring people closer to the truth about our Lord, then we use this opportunity to pray for them and then never cease doing what we know is right. Never can it be said that evangelization is a not a good thing.

Over the course of these past few months I have received much feedback about my blog from family and friends, but a lot from new visitors. Most of the feedback has been very positive. I’m glad to know that my writings are helpful enough for people to use them as a resource to discern their vocations more closely. Surprisingly, I have also received negative feedback. I have received negative reactions comments about my letter to President Obama and for having a “corny” writing style when describing seminary life and aspects of prayer and faith. Despite these criticisms, I have no intention of giving up my blog or writing. My writing is not for my own benefit, but it is for the laborers whom the Lord of the Harvest has called to explore the opportunity to serve him in this way.

 Evangelization will always be confronted with criticism, but the important thing to do is to continue on the path that the Lord has sent us on. Christ himself was faced with scrutiny and criticism each and every day while He continuously told us the truth. Isn’t our goal to become more like him? If so, then we are on the right path. We will never give up doing what we have been called to do despite those who totally misunderstand our mission. We are always in the presence of Christ and He will never lead us astray or put us through something that we can’t handle. Don’t give up on him. He never gave up on us.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Feast of Guardian Angels: My Experience With My Guardian Angel



Since today is the Feast of our Guardian Angels, I thought I would re-post a series of stories on a significant experience in which I am sure my guardian angel was with me. Four years ago I had the unfortunate experience of being hit by a car. I worked hard to overcome the injury in order to make the basketball team that year, before having to quit before the end of the season due to injury. A year later, I decided to write about this experience of pain and fear and the hope of a fast recovery. These stories remind me that not only do our guardian angels keep us safe from physical harm, but also from spiritual and emotional harm. I hope you enjoy reading these postings and I hope that you have felt the same sense of peace and security from your guardian angels in your life.

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 2009

A Day I Will Never Forget

"Hey Justin, wait for me!" I panted as I rode my bike up one of the biggest hills I had ever been on.
My brother Justin and I were riding to a friend's house. I saw that Justin was almost a block ahead of me, as I attempted to cross a busy street. As I began to cross the street there was not a thought in my mind that this ride would change my life forever.

As I saw the green light in front of me, I began to proceed towards the crosswalk. I was about a foot off of the curb, when all of a sudden, "Bam!" A car coming to the corner to a right turn on red, smashed into my leg! I flew through the air and landed onto the cool concrete in the middle of the street. My already throbbing leg that was hit now fell onto my bike which landed on the ground on top of me. Immediately, I started to panic! I was in shock, but then again who wouldn't be? In terrific pain, I tried frantically to get up and pick up my bike. A middle aged woman, who had witnessed everything, got out of her car and told me to stay down. She then told me that she was going to call "911" and my parents to tell them what happened.
As soon as she said this, I heard by brother's voice, "John! Are you okay?!" Then the woman began to ask my brother what our phone number was. As my brother began telling her, she began punching the number into her cell phone and started telling my mom what had happened. Just then a young girl who had been driving the car got out and rushed over to see if I was ok. Having seen that I was badly hurt, she went over to the side of the road, and with her mother, they cried together.

In a flash, a police car arrived on the scene. The police officer began making his way across the crosswalk toward the frightened and bewildered teen driver. Almost out of nowhere I heard a voice frantically call out my name, "John! Oh No! John I'm here!" It was my mom, just getting out of the car with my younger siblings. When she got near, she told me to re-tell the whole incident. With every detail that I could remember, I saw my mom's facial expressions change. After she had heard my story, my mom expressed to me, how deeply sorry she was for what had happened. After a short while, my mom made her way over to the young girl who had been driving the car, to assure her that everything would be okay, and that we were sure that it was an accident. My mom also added that we would be praying for her.

At that moment, the blaring siren of an ambulance pierced the silence, as it seemed to descend upon us. The men inside rushed out to ask me what happened, where I was hurting, and also to warn me that they were getting the stretcher ready for me to climb aboard. Being in a great deal of pain, I could barely slide over to meet the stretcher on my side. When the men began to put me into the ambulance, they asked my mom if she wanted to accompany me. Without hesitation, my mom answered yes. Once she got into the gigantic trunk, we took off for the hospital. It would definitely be a ride I would never forget.

As we sped down the street, a multitude of thoughts passed through my mind. I began wondering if I would be able to walk properly again. I also was wondering what the doctor would say about my injury and how serious it was. Lastly, I began contemplating how my friends would react when they would hear about the accident. The drivers of the ambulance said it did not look to serious, but none of us really knew how this incident would truly change my life.

The ambulance arrived at the hospital and I was immediately wheeled into a room. There the doctor looked quickly at my leg and told me that they were going to do a quick x-ray. I was then wheeled down the hallway and into the ex-ray room. The two nurses that would be conducting the x-ray were not very kind and helpful. They did not try to help me onto the big table that I was supposed to lie on for the x-ray, so it was extremely difficult for me to make it from the stretcher that I was on. After lying there for some time during the x-rays, the nurses helped me back onto the stretcher and then wheeled me back to my room.
My mom was also in the room with me and was calling all of our family members to gather together for an emergency rosary for me. My mom and I waited in the room for hours. We both did not know what to expect.

Finally the doctor came back in and told me that it was just a severely bruised bone and that nothing was broken. What a relief! I have had so many broken bones in the past! The doctor then proceeded to say that I should stay home from school tomorrow and that I should be in a wheelchair for a week so that I wouldn't have to put pressure on it.

After stating this news, the doctor left and a nurse came in with some pain medicine. Then she asked me if I had enough strength to see if I could walk a little bit on the leg. As I stood on the floor and tried to walk on my leg, excruciating pain came! After about five minutes, I was back on the hospital bed almost out of breath. The nurse then repeated what the doctor had said and told me that I would be out for a day of school and them I would be able to go back the following day and use a wheelchair if I needed it. I was relieved that I did not have to stay overnight in the hospital! I was so glad to be going home. On top of that, I was glad that the nurse said I didn't have to go to school!Then I was helped out of the hospital bed and into a wheelchair to be wheeled out to go home. When I got home my brothers and sister were worried about me huddled around and asked if I was okay and if I needed anything. They all were very kind to me.

As night fell, I was finally able to relax and go to sleep. I began dreaming about the accident. As I dreamed I began to start worrying about my leg. Would my pain go away? What will the kids at my school say when I come in a wheelchair? Will I ever be able to do the things that I love? Will I ever be the same? Finally, exhausted from worry, I drifted off into a deep and pain-filled sleep. As I slept my doubts faded away. I knew that I was okay and that my leg would heal soon. It seemed that all my problems and troubles had disappeared. However, I had no idea that they were just beginning. 

The week with my wheelchair went by fast and in no time I was back to normal! Although I eventually would need to wear a boot on my leg for a few more months, I was confident that my guardian angel was with me through it all, leading through the pain and hurt and eventually bringing me to full health! I am so grateful for my guardian angel and I pray that many of you experience the healing and calm that they bring to each and everyone of us.


Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Letter to President Obama about his speech to the United Nations



I wrote this letter to President Obama after he gave his United Nations Address about the attack on the American Embassy in Libya. I wrote this not because I am endorsing either party or candidate, but that I wanted to let President Obama know that we, as the American people know when a candidate sways his opinions, but continues to speak of their support for things they do not believe in or are trying to undo. I wanted to point out that we have a voice and a vote and that we can make a difference. We just need to pay attention to things that are being said. I have posted this letter and I have mailed it to the White House. I pray for the conversion of President Obama and all congressional leaders, that they may lead us with integrity and courage.

Dear Mr. President,

My name is John Bender and I am a college seminarian studying to be a Catholic priest for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I recently saw in my local newspaper that you had given an address to the United Nations about the attacks on the United States Embassy in Libya. I just wanted to write you a letter about a few things that I, as a young voter picked up on about your speech.

You spoke about the topic of freedom. You spoke about the freedom of religion that America has, and how you believe that everyone should have this right. I find this ironic because in our America today, you are pushing the Catholic Church and other religious denominations to put aside our religious beliefs and instead support things that go against the very things that we believe in. I found it ironic that you could be telling the United Nations that in America, we have the freedom to believe what we want to believe, yet you are trying to take that away from us.

Mr. President, you stated that there is “no excuse for the killing of innocents.” You were talking about the innocent lives that were killed during the attack on the American Embassy. I could not help but notice however that despite your statement, you still continue to support and are an advocate for the very acts of abortion, which destroy so many innocent lives each and every day. I find it ironic that you speak of ending violence, but you still stand to support the malicious and unspeakable acts of aborting human life. I am not saying that the attacks on the American Embassy were not violent or malicious, but I wonder why you speak 
on certain topics when you clearly are supportive of un-Christian acts.

This November will be the first Presidential election that I get the chance to vote in. I have been paying very close attention to you and to Governor Romney, the speeches you give and the beliefs that you both have. I understand that everybody has different beliefs and feelings about everything. I ask you however, to please refrain from changing your opinions on things as the election draws closer. It is not helpful to the voters when you continue to support things that go against the very essence of life, happiness and the belief of God. Mr. President, I feel that you are constantly changing your words around and are misleading the voters of our country. I wonder why if you support something, why do you lie to the United Nations and to our country. Please stay with your opinions, and do not try to express anything that you yourself do not believe. Our country needs good men, who do not change their views just to obtain votes and who do not lie to the American public about the current state of our country. Please know that I pray for your conversion each and every day.

Sincerely,


John Bender

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Town rallies around Bullied Teen as She Prepares for Homecoming

This article really hit home with me. As a high school student, I had witnessed a lot of bullying and had felt bullied as well. This article which highlights Whitney Kropp, a young high school girl, shows the importance of standing up for those who are bullied or made fun of. It is the story of a town, rallying around this young girl and encouraging her to continue to live life to the fullest, to follow her dreams and to never be afraid to be herself. Please read this article and pass it along to others. Become a friend to those who are friendless! Show love to those who do not feel loved! Be Christ for those who do not know him. Whitney my prayers and support are with you:)

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/michigan-town-unites-behind-bullied-teen-voted-homecoming-court-a-prank-article-1.1168033

Monday, September 24, 2012

Family Day and the New York Public School District



As I was looking at Cardinal Dolan's blog, The Gospel in the Digital Age, I found out that today is Family Day! In his blog post Cardinal Dolan states,

There’s now more than a decade’s worth of research, all of it supporting the idea that the more a family gathers around the dinner table, the less likely a child is to engage in any kind of substance abuse, whether it be smoking, drinking or drugs.  What you eat for dinner isn’t really important – no fancy gourmet meals, or elaborate menus are required.  What is important is spending that time talking – and listening – with your kids. 

Here at St. Joseph's College Seminary, I feel that I have found a second family. My brother seminarians eat together, work and play together. Spending time with my seminarian family helps me to continue to be focused on why I am here. Being with each other in community; praying, eating, studying and playing, we get to know each other better and we are able to help each other to gain a greater knowledge of our Lord and His holy will. The more time I spend with my family, the less likely I will be distracted by anything that is not of good nature.

Yesterday was Seminary-Appeal Sunday. All of us seminarians were sent out to parishes to talk about vocations and St. Joseph's College Seminary. One of the main things we were asked to include in our talks was the importance of a family's involvement in their sons vocation. We urged the importance of daily prayer, of regular attendance at Mass and of good moral teaching. Teaching them good morals and right judgement is particularly important since today, New York public school's have issued "emergency contraception! This means that they will be distributing contraceptives and injections to students as young as 14 years old. Since when do they get the idea to do this without parent's permission? The school system is so misguided! We ask that parents lead their children by example and not let them be open to this tragic idea. If you, as parents, strive to follow Christ, your sons will follow them. Not only are you as parents called to help your children become successful human beings, but you are also called to teach them how to become good disciples of Christ, in a world that wants nothing to do with that.

As Family Day continues, I hope that you not only eat and spend time together with your families, but I also hope that you also pray with and for each other. I hope that as you pray, that each and everyone of you comes to know Christ better each and every day, as a  beloved member of His family.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Adoring and Returning His Sacrament of Love



Every Thursday, we have Adoration and Benediction at St. Joseph's from 5:30 until 8:30pm. It is easily one of my favorite things that we do. Not only is it a great way to adore our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, but it is also an amazing way in which to pour out our hearts to Him, filled with the events of our day.

This past Thursday, as I was in Adoration, I looked at the book that I brought for spiritual reading. The book was entitled, "I Believe in Love," by Pere Jean D'Elbee, a priest of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts. I turned to a page dedicated to the Eucharist. In this chapter, D'Elbee relates the conversations of Our Lord Jesus and St. Margaret Mary-

  As He was sweating blood on Holy Thursday,- His greatest suffering- He confided in her, was the ingratitude of men, especially toward the Sacrament of His love. He saw in advance the long days, the long nights in which He would be alone, forgotten, in thousands of tabernacles in solitary churches, the thousands of indifferent people that would pass each day without even thinking that he is there. He saw those who would enter churches, only to admire the windows or architecture, not even acknowledging him with a little genuflection before the tabernacle. He saw the multitude of the baptized, whom He was supposed to adopted as his children in His blood, who would neglect even Sunday mass, who would fail to receive Easter Communion. After delivering himself up in the Host, as he did, what does he ask of us? He gives without a cost, and he is refused love. He foresaw everything in Gethsemane, and he accepted it all, that he might descend into a single soul who loves him. "For you alone I would have instituted the Sacrament of my love."

As I read this and gazed at the Eucharist, I realized how guilty I am of these very acts of irreverence. There were times where I did not genuflect and adore Christ. There were horrible times where I felt like praying in front of Jesus was a burden. I couldn't even sit in front of my Lord for a half and hour without feeling bored. How ashamed I am to say this. I was so ignorant and so immature, to not adore the very person in whom my life is indebted to.

I overheard a conversation the other day in which a Muslim man and a Catholic man were conversing about the differences between their religions. The Muslim man brought up a profound point. " If I really believed God was right in front of me," he said," I would be trembling in fear and would not be able to leave my knees in adoration, but you Catholics simply look at the host, consume it and then you carry on with your day." This man made a very great point. If we truly believe that the host that we consume is Christ, why are our lives not dramatically changed? Why do we constantly eat His Precious Body and Blood, and then go back to leading our sinful lives, no longer adoring Christ until next week Sunday? As we continue to live our lives, my prayer is that all of us adore Christ with our whole hearts and that we no longer leave him in the dark, alone and forgotten.This is not the way that we should be treating our King. As we come to Christ in the Holy Eucharist, may we truly be motivated to change our lives and never cease praising and adoring Him, who is so worthy of all of our love.

*May the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, in the Most Blessed Sacrament, be praised and adored and loved in all the tabernacles until the end of time.*

Monday, September 17, 2012

Mary Lead Us



We are almost one month into our seminary career! It's hard to believe how fast the time has gone by. I have really enjoyed everything so far. I have met so many great people and made some new friends. I got to all of my classes on time and have passed my first five Latin tests with A's. Overall, it has been a wonderful first month in the seminary!

One thing that I found that I have found while I have been here at St. Joseph's, is the importance of prayer. I can't remember a time that I have been so busy! As seminarians, we have many more obligations than most of the regular students on the Loyola University campus. Besides Morning prayer, Mass and Evening prayer everyday, we also have Formation meetings on Mondays, Compline (Night prayer) on our floors in the building on Tuesdays, confessions and rosary on Wednesday, Adoration and Benediction on Thursdays. All of these obligations and requirements, plus time for study and homework keep us pretty busy.

It is important during these busy moments, that we never lose sight of prayer, specifically individual prayer. After busy days, we can get grumpy or stressed out, but we must never become anxious or bored with prayer. This is exactly what the devil wants us to do. He wants us to draw away from our contact with God so that we become weak and no longer focused on His will. It is for this reason why it is so important to pray as we continue our discernment.

A wonderful model of for us to focus on is our Blessed Mother Mary. She continually intercedes for us to her son. If we want to get closer to Christ, than we must go to His mother. She knew him best and will lead us right to His heart. Why wouldn't we entrust her with our prayers? She is our help and protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. If we pray to her, she will bring our prayers to the Father and then will cover us with her mantle. So I ask for prayers, for myself and my brother seminarians, that we may never lose the urge to pray and will to run to Mary our Mother no matter how tired or stressed we may be. Please know of my prayers for all of you, that she will cover you with her mantle each and everyday.




Wednesday, September 5, 2012

One Nation Under God: A Response to an Article Written by the Huffington Post about Cardinal Dolan

 
We are fast approaching the Presidential Election and without really diving too deeply into politics I wanted to reflect upon one thing that really struck me as we are preparing to vote this November. This past week, both the Republican and Democratic parties held their conventions, continuing to jockey for the people's support, often bringing on celebrities and comedians. It seems like a vain approach to get voters. In my opinion, just because a candidate brings out a comedian or celebrity doesn't always mean you should vote for that candidate. The celebrity does not make the candidate anymore valid then he is. This did not really impress me.

What did impress me was the action of an outside source. This outside source was of course, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, who accepted an invitation to pray at the Republican Convention and as a result offered to close the Democratic Convention with a prayer as well. Some people see this as the Cardinal telling Catholics that its okay to vote for Obama or Romney. This is not the case. The Cardinal is not telling you who to vote for or giving his stamp of approval to either candidate. Some people might have gotten confused about that, specifically Michele Somerville, a journalist from the Huffinton Post who published a snarky article today claiming that because of the Cardinal's gracious offer to pray at both conventions, people will assume that it's ok to vote for President Obama and that his anti-life, anti-marriage platform is truly the most respectful pro-life stance! It is hilarious to think that the author believes that the Democratic party actually respects life and believes that they will receive the Catholic vote thanks to the Cardinal. Obviously she has an axe to grind against the Cardinal and is missing the point of his offer to lead the prayer at both of the conventions.

In my opinion, the whole point of Cardinal Dolan offering to pray with both conventions is not to swing the people's vote to either candidate, but to show how important it is to work with one another. It is time to put aside our differences and work toward becoming a country striving to do the Lord's will. It is truly appalling that the author of this article assumes that this beautiful act of love, kindness and acceptance is just a way for men and women to justify their vote for either candidate. Although the prayer occurs at each convention, its purpose is not to sway votes for either candidate, but rather to pray for our nation as a whole. Regardless of which man takes office, the Cardinal's prayer is that he will respect the human dignity of every person, will help those less fortunate and will work to sustain the very freedoms that this country was built upon. I applaud Cardinal Dolan for his gracious prayer and for striving to make sure God's will is done not only in each of us as individuals, but as a whole country. I join Cardinal Dolan in his prayer and hope that we truly become one nation under God without division.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Please Pray for Archbishop Francis Cardinal George


Last week was St. Joseph's College Seminary's Dedication of the Chapel, celebrated by Archbishop Francis Cardinal George. I was honored to have the opportunity to serve for him and then meet him for the first time during the reception afterward. I was so happy to have his blessing for a successful first year of college as well. It was an amazing feeling to know that he is praying for me and my brother seminarians.

Although he has all of us in his prayers, it is he who needs prayers the most. Cardinal George will be undergoing chemotherapy tomorrow. It was announced last month that cancer had been detected in his liver and right kidney. This is his second bout with cancer, but the first time he will need to undergo chemotherapy.

As the shepherd of this Archdiocese of Chicago, it is our duty to pray for him as he has so often done for us, and support him as he enters into this difficult time.

Please feel free to write to him and let him know of your support and prayers.

Email: www.archchicago.org.

Mailing Address:  Francis Cardinal George, OMI,
                               Archbishop of Chicago,
              835 North Rush Street, Chicago, Illinois, 60611.

The Cardinal will receive each message that is sent.

May God continue to bless and protect him.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Joy of Christ

With the first week of classes under my new college belt, it was nice to sit back, relax and have some fun. Together with some of my fellow seminarians, we threw a frisbee in the front courtyard of St. Joseph's, played basketball over at Loyola's student gym, jumped in Lake Michigan and buried one of our brothers in the sand. It was a lot of fun! Because our building is right across the street from one of the freshman dorms called Mertz Hall, we do get a lot of people passing by looking at us. Sometimes its fun to wave at them as they stare, occasionally inviting them to come over and play some frisbee and get to know us.


 Last night as we were leaving the gym, we decided to go and sing Salve Regina in front of a statue of Mary on campus, and asked a couple of girls who were walking behind us if they wanted to join. We told them that we were seminarians. The girls obviously didn't know what a seminarian was because one of them said, "Oh cool, my dad is one of the those." Needless to say, they didn't join us.
 
After praying, we all walked over to the lake and we plunged in together with our clothes still on. Some of the people on the beach probably thought we were crazy! I hope they do. I hope that they saw we are filled with the joy of Christ. I hope that they see that we are regular guys, that happen to be studying for one of the most extraordinary vocations  in the world. I pray that people will remain curious as to what St. Joseph's College Seminary is and will want to talk with us, come over for Mass and have dinner with us. We're not crazy, we just love God and want to glorify him by our lives.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

10 Days into Seminary Life



When I first decided to apply to St. Joseph College Seminary in Chicago, the essence of community and brotherhood played a huge factor. I wanted to be around other guys headed toward the same goal. Now ten days into my seminary career, I have already begun to see it more clearly. On Move-In Day, returning seminarians helped move myself and other new seminarians into our rooms and introduced themselves. They were very glad that we were here. I'm glad I am too!

If it were not for my brother seminarians helping me and guiding me in the right direction, I would never have learned the things that I now know. Before coming to St. Joseph's, I knew that good liturgy was always important, but I never had been to a place where everyone is passionate about liturgy, liturgy that is flowing but yet has structure and body. Good timing and reverent movement is very essential when serving, lectoring and even while being an Extraordinary Minister of the Holy Eucharist.




If it were not for my brother seminarians, I would not have been able to tie my own cincture and wear a collar with my cassock. I would not have know how to decorate an altar after it had been anointed during the Dedication of the Altar Mass that we just had the previous evening in our brand new chapel. So far, seminary has taught me how important it is to work with one another. Cooperation is very important.

In a way, my brother seminarians are my new family. We live, eat, pray, study, and play together. It really is what I needed. I needed to be around other guys who are determined to meet one goal, growing together in love and service, and God-willing,one day as priests! I have learned that nobody is ever alone. Everyone is here to help everyone else succeed. If there was such a thing, this would be the objective of the "No Seminarian Left Behind Act." Nobody should ever feel like they are alone in their discernment or their studies. We are here to encourage one another and grow ever more in love with Christ and His Church each day.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Supporting Vocations to the Priesthood

It feels so strange to say I will be moving out of my house and moving in to St. Joseph College Seminary in Chicago in less than a week. I have been so blessed to meet so many great people over this summer and I am so grateful for their love, prayers and support. To know that I have the backing of my home parish, family, friends and complete strangers is an amazing feeling.

When I first started this blog, I had just got home from attending my second Seminary Summer Camp hosted by St. Francis De Sales Seminary in St. Francis, Wisconsin. I was on fire for the faith and wanted to share my experience with anyone who would listen. I was feeling confident that God was calling me to become a priest as I was entering into my sophomore year of high school. I began recording my thoughts, my prayers, my writings and the many events that I participated in. I became a team member of a major vocations website that had begun in England run by teens specifically for men thinking about the possibility of priesthood, writing prayers and reflections for the site. Because of the site, I had the opportunity to be interviewed on Relevant Radio about how I came into contact with the creator and founder of the website, John Howard who is now a seminarian in England.  It was a very exciting time in my life!

The biggest thing that I learned this summer is how important it really is to be involved in as many events as you can. Everything that you are able to participate in, gives you an opportunity to share your faith with others, network and meet new people as well as make great new friends. This summer I frequently visited a discernment house in Shorewood, WI which housed five young men who were discerning the priesthood. One of these men will be entering college seminary with me this Tuesday as a Junior. I got to know each of these men, prayed with them, shared my discernment story with them and let them know of my support. I felt it was only fair to offer not only my time, but also my prayers and support that I was so fortunate to receive as I was applying for seminary.

The point that I am trying to make in all of this is not to make myself look high and mighty, but to share with fellow seminarians and discerners that even after getting accepted to seminary our work is not done, but is only beginning. Besides going to classes and formation lessons, I feel it is so important to take the time to show discerning men how much you are praying for them and how much you support them as they continue discerning God's will for them. Having the support of seminarians and priests while I was discerning and even during applying to seminary gave me confidence and helped me to know that I had good friends that had confidence in me that I seemed capable of being a good priest. It is so important to pray for the future of our church and support them with our company and kindness.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Pilgrimage: 50 Miles to Holy Hill

Millions of people make religious pilgrimages each year. Whether it is making a trip to Lourdes, Fatima or Champion, Wisconsin, a religious pilgrimage is a time to step back from our day to day lives and begin a voyage, not only in a physical state but also in a spiritual sense. It is during these pilgrimages that we begin to draw deeper into our relationships with Christ, giving ourselves a chance to admire, as well as ponder, His wonderful deeds and His constant love for human kind.

A few weeks ago,  I was given the chance to embark on my first religious pilgrimage led by Archdiocesan Vocations Director Father Luke Strand. This pilgrimage was a 50 mile walk from St. Francis De Sales Seminary in St. Francis to Holy Hill in Hubertus, Wisconsin. Following Mass, we began our pilgrimage with a trip to visit Auxiliary Bishop Donald J. Hying at his office at the Archbishop Cousins Center to wish him a happy one year anniversary to the episcopacy.


After congratulating our awesome Auxiliary Bishop, we made our way to various churches on the south side of Milwaukee such as: Immaculate Conception in Bay View, the Bascilica of St. Josaphat on 6th and Lincoln Avenue, St. Anthony's on 9th and Mitchell, as well as the St. Joan of Arc Chapel on the Marquette University Campus before going to Aurora Sinai Medical Center on Kilbourn Ave, where my Mom had planned a wonderful lunch for the starving pilgrims.

After filling our bellys with some amazing food, we continued to make our way  up Wisconsin Ave, picking up two Marquette students that chose to pilgrimage with us for the day. We stopped to pray in front of Planned Parenthood, tried with no avail to get a look at the new chapel that was built inside Marquette University High School and prayed inside the Schoenstatt Shrine on 55th and Wisconsin Ave. For dinner, we traveled to Christ King Parish in Wauwatosa and finally arrived at St. Mary's Visitation Parish in Elm Grove at 8:00 to spend the night. The next day began with 6:30 AM Mass. We were graciously invited to have breakfast at the home of Brian Magliocco and his wife, Melissa.  Brian is the coordinator of WYRE Ministries which produces wonderful events for the youth of Wisconsin with opportunities to grow closer to God, such as the Wisconsin Youth Rally that is held every year.

After breakfast, we made the trip to St. John Vianney Parish in Brookfield to pray Morning Prayer and then to St. Dominic's Parish for lunch with Fr. David Reith, the Pastor, and newly ordained Fr. Brad Krawczyk, now the Associate Pastor. After breakfast it was straight walking all the way to Merton, Wisconsin. Relying solely on Divine Providence, we were amazed when a man stopped us on the side of the road with bottles of water and Hershey chocolate bars. It was even more amazing to us when he revealed to us that he was a Mormon. We stopped at Fr. Luke Strand's aunt's house for dinner and to spend the night. The first thing we all did was jump in the cold pool. Relaxing our tired bodies in the pool was awesome!

We woke up the next morning refreshed and energized, ready to conquer the final 10 miles to Holy Hill. We were a mile away from our destination when we decided to walk the rest of the way barefoot. It was just a small sacrifice, offering up our tired bare feet to Christ. I can't even imagine how He could walk the Via Dolorosa with so many lacerations on His body, His crown of thorns and His tired feet. All of these painful details with the addition of a heavy wooden cross in just incomprehensible! This small sacrifice that we gave, by walking the last mile to Holy Hill barefoot was our way of completing our pilgrimage, by uniting ourselves with Christ, and offering up our sore and tired bodies, so that He could transform them and use them for His glory. This was the purpose of our pilgrimage, to give witness to Christ by walking these 50 miles, carrying a Papal flag, carrying no food of our own with us, totally relying on God like we should be each and every day of our lives. 


Attending the 4:00 o'clock Mass at Holy Hill was such a fitting end to the pilgrimage, reminding us what our true purpose of this journey was. Pilgrimages are supposed to bring you closer to God and for us, this literally was true. It was an amazing experience that I will never forget. I hope to go on more pilgrimages in the future, continuing to move ever closer to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Prayer-filled Weekend

As temperatures continue to rise during this summer, its always great when you are able to escape the heat and head up north for cooler weather. This past weekend I was invited to head up to Catholic Youth Expeditions at the Formation Center in Door County, Wisconsin which is headed up by Fr. Quinn Mann of the Diocese of Green Bay. I traveled with Fr. Luke Strand, the Archdiocesan Vocations Director, and a young man who is discerning a call to the priesthood. It was a wonderful weekend on Kangaroo Lake, filled with swimming and playing Ultimate Frisbee, as well as prayer, adoration and benediction, and time for confessions, too.

One particularly exciting thing that I did witih  the 15 other expeditioners and staff was getting to travel across the road to bless a family's farm and their animals. Due to the fact that the family was not Catholic, the priests and the rest of us jokingly referred to the event as, " going to bless a pagan farm and pagan animals." After all, the blessing really didn't mean that they were invoking the help of God and entrusting their farm to Him, but it was seen as a good luck charm to them; something you do just a precaution.We proceeded to do a Eucharistic Procession from the Chapel of the Formation Center, across the street to the farm where we definitely got our fair share of jaw drops and long gazing stares. It turns out though that the family, which had invited the rest of their family and friends, were very grateful to us for coming over and blessing their farm and animals in the way that we did. Adoration and Benediction in the middle of a field with cows mooing around you was a cool feeling. In some ways, I could picture this being like the Nativity of our Lord in a stable with farm animals around him. I wonder if he ever got annoyed of them mooing.

After the blessing and the Eucharistic Holy Hour, Fr. Quinn drove myself and the other 6 servers and the two other priests back to the formation center on a tiny golf cart. Just imagine Fr. Quinn driving a golf cart, sitting next to Fr. Luke, while six of us are hanging onto the ends of the cart with cassocks and surpluses, while were bouncing over grass and bumps in the road, carrying thuribles, big bowls of holy water and huge Eucharistic torches. Let's just say that one of these servers ended up being baptized with the entire bowl of holy water as he left the golf cart totally soaked from head to toe.

A great part of being a brand new college seminarian is being able to travel to different places and meet new people.  It's always an amazing feeling to know that so many people are praying for you and love you. I feel like because I get support from so many people, that I should atleast pay it forward. Whenever I go anywhere, I pray that I may be like Christ for others who have never seen Christ or experienced his love. Whenever I go places and meet people who are discerning a call to priesthood, I feel like it is important for me to show support to them, let them know I'm praying for them and trying to stay in contact with them. No one should ever feel like their alone in their discernment process, so it is always good to show your support for discerners.

 I was so fortunate to have met many seminarians this past weekend too. Most of them were from Mundelein Major Seminary in Chicago, a few from the Diocese of Green Bay and of course, 5 of us from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. It was awesome for us to meet with one another, to play sports and goof around with one another, and pray with and for one another. I truly had a blast this weekend!


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Family Instills and Promotes Faith in Us

Today my family and I had the opportunity to go to Nazareth Day for Families held at the Basilica of St. Mary Help of Christians at Holy Hill. The whole day was filled with Mass, hot dogs, brats and burgers fresh off the grill, as well as face painting, bounce houses for the little ones and games of volleyball and soccer.

All in all, the entire day was celebration of families. Families show us what it means to belong, grow and develop, and most importantly, families show us what it means to love. I think Bishop Donald Hying said it perfectly in his homily today, " Marriage is a vocation that many are called to, and having a family is a vocation as well. It is not easy to have a family. It is not always easy to bring your children up in the world that we have today especially with secularism on the rise. This is why we applaud these families for doing their best to bring their children up in the faith of the Catholic Church and most importantly, to know and love God. Without good and holy families instilling the great faith that we believe in by attending Sunday Mass as well as other church related activities, vocations to priesthood and religious life would never be what they are today." 


So in conclusion, I just want to say a big thank you to all those families and in particular my own family, for bringing your children up with great morals, for being great examples of how we should live, giving up our lives in order to bring us to God through the sacraments that we have received, all so we can grow closer to our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.











Saturday, June 30, 2012

Summer Continues to Teach The Importance of Hard Work

This summer I have the opportunity to work at St. Francis De Sales Seminary here in Milwaukee, as a part of a groundscrew team. The previous two summers I had spent work at my parish. Being able to work on various things to keep the grounds and the building working and looking good is a really great feeling. To know that I am working at a place that not only fosters my vocation, but also has fostered countless others over the 157 years of its existence is amazing.

While working there I have had the opportunity to learn different skills and work tatics that I not only need in order to keep the building running, but will also need them for the rest of my life such as the importance of hard work, determination and patience. As I start college seminary this coming August, I know that I will need all of these same characteristics. I realize that I will need to learn all that I can, in order to help as many as I can. This means that in order to properly educate people in the faith and in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, I need to immerse myself in every area of study that I can. Just as a maintenance man who does not know how to use tools will have a hard time improving and taking care of the buildings he is entrusted to, so a priest who has no knowledge of the faith really have a hard time educating others in the ways of the church.

With that in mind, I have given myself a few goals this summer as I move closer toward beginning seminary life.

1. Increase or find consistency in my prayer life.
2. Read as many philosophy and theology books as I can.
3. Write emails or letters to those discerning a call to priesthood or has expressed an interest in applying to seminary, but need a little encouragement.

All in all, this summer I feel like it is time for me to start living the life that I will, while I am in seminary. This is my time to continue to grow in my faith and bring others to it as well. I only pray to God that I can.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Young People of Wisconsin: "It's Time to Stand Up For Life!"

This past weekend I was invited to give a talk about pro-life issues to a group of 17 teenagers at a youth retreat at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Hales Corners, WI. My talk was to be on pro-life issues, specifically abortion. This has been an extremely important topic ever since it was made legal in the 1973 Roe V. Wade Supreme Court ruling. My talk highlighted facts about abortion, the Catholic Church's teaching on it as well as personal experiences that I have had with pregnant classmates who were contemplating abortion, and personal stories about my time spent praying outside of a local abortion clinic. The main thing that I wanted to incorporate in my talk however was how important it is for the youth of our church to stand up and fight for the pro-life cause. After all, we are the future of the church aren't we? We need to show the rest of the world that we can make a difference in the way that it is run. This includes fighting to end abortion and all attacks on human life. We need to show the world that we will not stand by and let organizations such as Planned Parenthood and other abortion clinics influence us and our decisions. A copy of my talk is below in italics.

One of the biggest ways that we can make an impact on the world is by doing one very simple but equally powerful action, voting. Yesterday marked the Recall Primary Election for Governor in Wisconsin. As you may know, Governor Scott Walker is being recalled and will, as of yesterday's primary election, face Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in a Recall Election on June 5th. One of the things that Mayor Tom Barrett is in support of is abortion. As young people and young adult voters of this great state, we need to stand up and vote in support of pro-life candidates, namely, Governor Scott Walker. Walker is extremely pro-life and that is why he is getting my vote this election. Not only is he unjustly being recalled after doing a great job moving Wisconsin forward and out of debt, but it is also appalling that his opposition is one who is so evil that he is in support of killing innocent children and then trying to receive communion at a Catholic Church. It is time for us to stand strong as the young people of this state and vote for what is right. Please join me in voting for Governor Scott Walker on June 5th to not only to continue to move the state forward, but also save lives doing it.  

Respect Life Committee Talk May 5th 2012 • My name is John Bender. I’m a senior at Nathan Hale High School in West Allis, a parishioner at St. Matthias Catholic Church in Milwaukee and am a member of the Respect Life Committee there.

• So when Eva Melenchuk, the president and founder of the Respect Life Committee here at St. Mary’s invited me to come talk about pro-life issues, I thought it was a great honor and a great chance to talk to kids around my own age about how important it is to make an impact in the world, by stopping one of the biggest things that harm it, abortion.

• So I’m going to begin by starting with the church teaching on human life taken from the Catechism of the Catholic Church- “All life is sacred from conception to natural death.” 

• People’s Exceptions- “ I’m only in favor of abortion in cases of rape and incest. When it comes to saving innocent life however, there are exceptions. 

• There is nothing more important than the life of each and every human being.  

Facts about Abortion 

• Legal since the Supreme Court ruling of 1973. 

• Since then, over 42 million abortions are performed in the US each year. 

• 52% of these women receiving these abortions are younger than 25. 

 • 64.4% of all abortions are performed on un-married women. 

• Teenagers obtain for 20% as well as 1.2% for children 15 and under.  

Why is abortion still utilized? 

• 1% of all abortions occur due to rape, 6% due to health problems regarding either the mother or child. 93% of all abortions occur because of social reason. Simply put, 93% of children are aborted due to inconvenience. 

• Meaning that when a mother or family member feels like it is convenient for them to have a child, they will have one. Which leads to the question, “ when is it ever convenient to abort or end innocent human life?”  

The Question is? 

• How can we stop these horrible attacks on life from being performed, the biggest and best answer is abstinence.

• After all, the more couples that practice abstaining from sex reduces the number of women becoming pregnant, stops the transfer of sexually transmitted diseases and of course, without a pregnancy, there is no abortion. 

 • Sex between a married couple is seen as beautiful. It not only unites the couple but it also creates the possibility of creating new life. 

• It is outside of this marriage bond that sex is considered morally wrong. First, because it is not commonly used as a way to pro-create, and second because a large number of pregnancies for unmarried couples are often result to abortion. This is the challenge for us young people. We need not only be physically strong, but also mentally and morally strong.  

Call to be proactive 

• As young people we have to be proactive in terms of our faith. We have to be advocates for one another. This requires getting out of our comfort zones and getting involved.

• There are many ways to get involved in the pro-life effort. 

• This past March the Archdiocese had a Pro-life rally at the Cousin Center bringing huge amounts of teens and young adults to pray for an end to abortion. 

• Each October is dedicated as Pro-Life Month, dedicating everything during that month towards praying for the pro-life cause. 

• There are also opportunities to make a true impact in the pro-life movement. 40 Days for Life asks people of all ages to make a trip down to Affiliated Medical Services on Farwell Ave. in Milwaukee to pray for the end to all abortions that continue to occur at this last abortion clinic in the Milwaukee area.  

Personal Experiences 

• I have known a few classmates and old friends who have been pregnant and currently pregnant. When I have talked to these girls many of them felt strongly about keeping their baby, but also others have been influenced by their parents to try to make them give up their baby by aborting it. It is very sad for me to see how much their life will eventually change with or without the baby. 

• The time that I have spent praying out in front of abortion clinics have definitely been life changing. I remember standing out in front the building watching countless women walk out of the clinic, heads down in shame, emotionally and mentally drained, feeling totally wiped out. I remember hearing the clinics employees ridiculing us for trying to deprive women of their right to abort their children. They seem so full of anger and hate, constantly calling us name, occasionally calling the police on us. It is very sad, but we understand that the only reason that they are angry is because somewhere inside of themselves; they know that what we are doing is honorable and right. Their reactions give away their true feelings. 

 • I can count the times that I have been to the abortion clinic on one hand, and sometimes I feel like I’m not really doing anything to fight abortion. In reality, just my being there, standing there, praying there; I am making a difference in someone else life. Maybe God is calling each of you to work in the pro-life movement. You will never know until you try. Just by going a few times will not only change your life, but it will change the lives of the people around you walking past and seeing your bravery and cheerful spirit. We need to bring a little light and happiness to fight the darkness. I encourage each of you to listen intently to what God is calling you to do. I promise that he will never disappoint you.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Evangelization: It Starts With Us

It is important to stand up for your faith! Everyone can attest to this statement, but do we really do what we say? Everyone can be faith filled and have the urge to do God's work while they are in the middle of worshiping during church, but it is often a different story once we leave the holy sacrifice of the Mass.

Evangelization is not tolerated today. We are told, "It is okay for you to believe what you want to believe, just don't talk about it to anyone else." We are given the perception that religion is great in church, but we should keep it to ourselves after that.

A work friend of mine was recently in trouble with the law. She was arrested, brought before a judge and was given a 45 day jail sentence as a result of two consecutive drunk-driving charges. Her arrest has caused each of her co-workers to pick up her shifts while she has her paperwork filed and can return to work under Huber Law. As I take each one of her shifts I pray that the Lord can help her to feel His presence as she goes through this very difficult time. Shortly before her incarceration, I had a chance to talk to her. I found out that she is an atheist, but has not always had the lack this lack of faith. I found out that she had regularly attended a Catholic church while she was little, but her parents had ceased to attend and she found what she considered "better" ways to spend her Sundays.

In an attempt to show her that God still exists and is very much a part of her life, I told her that I was attending college seminary after graduation this year and offered to share my faith story with her. I was not trying to brag or show off my strong faith, but I wanted to show her that God has the power to influence our thoughts and decisions if we open up to him. It is my prayer "amid the pots and pans at work", that God continues to open up her heart to Him. Perhaps by some miracle her eyes can open to His love and her faith will be renewed.

Religion is a bigger subject than people think. God needs to be talked about wherever we go. The subject of God should not be stopped once we walk out of the church doors, but it should be carried to all those we come in contact with. Young people of today need to know God and know how much He loves them despite all of their faults and mistakes. This is our job as Christians and Evangelizers. Are we up to the challenge to take the Gospel to the streets?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Update!


Just wanted to give everyone a quick update on all that has happened over the last few days. God sure does work in mysterious ways. My application has been reviewed and I will be a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee studying at St. Joseph's College Seminary in Chicago! Thanks so much everyone for your thoughts and prayers! I ask you all to please continue to keep me in your prayers as I continue on this journey, finishing up high school, beginning seminary life and God-willing, becoming a priest for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Thoughts

In case I haven't already told you, I am in the final stages of applying to St. Joseph's College Seminary on the campus of Loyola University in Chicago. It has been interesting to say the least! I have only one more interview with one of three priests to go before the seminary board meeting that ultimately decides whether or not I am accepted will meet on March 21st to decide my fate. This is all pretty exciting stuff that has been going on including psychological testing, medical examinations and physicals, interviews with priests and discernment groups and retreats.

During the process, what I've really enjoyed doing is being able to just take time to really pray and meditate about whether or not God wants me to be a priest or not. I've realized that throughout everything, I have been shown the importance of total and complete trust in Him. A prayer that has been stuck in my mind and I have recited often is, "God, please reveal your will for me, and if I am not doing your will, please make it obvious!"

One thing that I have noticed so far is that while we as Christians try to live our lives entirely dedicated to God, so many things try to keep us from doing just that. In my life for example, while in the midst of my application process I have been struggling with laziness, lack of motivation, the feeling of unworthiness and also my feelings of interest towards girls. During discernment, I learned that it is okay to date and that it is important to develop good, strong, healthy and holy relationships with girls. While applying to the seminary, or for a person who is ready to enter seminary, it is important to distance yourself from serious dating since you are considering giving your life to Christ. For me this has been very challenging concept to grasp because simply put, "I like girls!" and I feel that ever since I started applying I have had more girls wanting to hangout or date and are way to serious about things than before I began applying. It feels like a tug and pull relationship. At one point I am strong in my discernment and yet I am also very weak.

Another part that has been addressed in recent interviews and conversations is the importance of academics. I have never been strong in my academic career and it is a huge problem. In fact, I learned that I might not be accepted because of that issue. I am advanced in History and English, but very poor in Math and Science. On top of this, I am a horrible test taker and this is clearly evident in my low ACT score.

I am finding it hard sometimes to be positive and upbeat of the application process. I do experience doubts and negative thoughts many times with what God really wants for me. I have attended seminary summer camps as well as other events in the Archdiocese and every where I looked, I kept thinking that I could really see myself becoming a priest and yet I am learning so often that it is harder than it looks. I am finding out that it is not easy to be a priest, let alone even be accepted into a seminary.

Despite everything, I have learned how important prayer and patience are! I have learned that it is important no matter what to never lose confidence and trust in God. I have confidence that he will put me right where he wants me, despite all of my girl and school troubles. I realize that even if I don't become a priest, I will continue to have my strong faith in Jesus and a strong love for His Catholic church. With God by my side, I will have nothing to fear. He has me in his arms, carrying me the whole way to where he knows I will be needed.