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

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


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- 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 . 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.


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.