Today is the feast day of blessed Junipero Serra, an 18th century Franciscan Friar who founded Spanish missions in California. His work is the work we are all called to do, as Father Steve Grunow explains in his homily for today.
There are now over a billion people who are part of the great Catholic communion to which we belong.
If we were to describe the most common color or complexion of the members of our Church it would be brown. If we were to speak the language spoken by most Catholics, the language would be Spanish. If we were to look on a map to locate were most of the Catholics in the world lived, it would be in the regions to the south, below the equator. If we were to name the greatest Catholic city in the world, it would be Mexico City with its great shrine of Guadalupe. If we were to describe the economic starus of most of the world's Catholics, most of us would live in poverty.
Most of the world's baptized Catholics owe their faith to a great missionary enterprise that swept through the globe following European expansion during the 15th through the early 20th century. Faith in Jesus Christ circles the globe largely as a resuly of the heroic efforts of missionaries to endure profound hardship to bring the good news of salvation to the world.
Blessed Junipero Serra was such a missionary. His deep faith compelled him to establish missions throughout the swouthwestern United States. His work laid the groundwork for the spread of the Catholic faith in this hemisphere...
Tomorrow is the Feast of St. Bede the Venerable, a Benedictine from the 7th century who had a keen sense of what it meant to translate intellectual pursuits into action. He stands as a great example for new evangelists in the 21st century. Fr. Steve Grunow explains why.
There is an understanding of the Church put forward by her detractors and enemies that for much (if not all) of its history, the Church has been a backward institution responsible for fomenting superstition, persecution and violence. Is this true? Might there be something that this negative appraisal is missing?
From roughly the sixth to the tenth century, civilization in Western Europe passed through a momentous transformation as the power of Rome faded and the culture that had enabled that empire to flourish and grow fractured. The grandeur of Rome passed into memory and a new kind of Europe emerged in its place.
In the midst of this cultural transformation a monk by the name of Benedict founded a new kind of religious movement that would act as a stabilizing influence for the peoples of Europe. Monks of the Benedictine Rule would establish monastic houses, and in their efforts to bring the Gospel to bear on their time and place they would produce innovations in technology, advance intellectual inquiry, produce art and music, and preserve the cultural patrimony of the ancient world. All this was accomplished for Christ and because of Christ.
Saint Bede, whose memory the Church celebrates today, was a member of this Benedictine movement. He was born in the year 673...
Today, Father Steve addresses the importance of being physically prepared for spiritual mission, especially within the vocation to the priesthood. Read his thoughts on the matter (and see how he practices what he preaches) below.
Several years ago I made an impassioned appeal that in the face of the terrible scandals facing the priesthood, the laity should not lose faith in the priesthood- that they would continue to encourage the young men in their families to consider whether Christ called them to serve him as his priests. The renewal of the priesthood necessitated that a new generation of priests would rise up from the faithful who would make the necessary sacrifices to set right what had gone so wrong. I must admit that I expected some measure of flack from extending this invitation to the assembly. Many faithful Catholics remain justifiably angry about the dark cloud of scandal that has enveloped the Church and hold the culture of the priesthood responsible for shadows through which we must now walk. It seemed to me that many had lost faith in the priesthood, and so I figured my appeal would be a tough sell.
What surprised me was that the sole objection to my proposal came from two parishioners, a married couple that would best be described as devout with a large brood of children. They found my appeal hard to take and the stumbling block they faced was not simply based on the clerical sexual abuse scandal. “Father” they said, “I would have a very difficult time encouraging priesthood to my sons because it has been our impression that it has become an unhealthy way of life.” “You mean in light of the actions of some priests in regards to the abuse of young people?” I asked. “Quite frankly, it is my impression that priests are physically unhealthy, and whether or not this is symptomatic or the cause of other issues I don’t know. But it seems that men are destroyed physically by the priesthood, and I just wouldn’t want that for my children.” I wrote that conversation down and keep it in my breviary...