Last week I wrote about the topic of changes within the context of a vocation. This includes newly married couples, new parents, priests who were just ordained, new pastors, or recently consecrated religious sisters. All experience this new change of life in different ways. Last week we discussed the temptations this can present. This week let’s look at the graces.
The change of assignment, a new job or the arrival of children is an occasion of grace. God's presence is evident. We move not by our power but by the one who loves us. The primary grace of this kind of change is participation in the Paschal Mystery of the Lord. A change implies a kind of loss. This includes a kind of dying. It also affords a promise and an invitation to new life.
Another grace is the opportunity to renew one's commitment. Circumstances shift in a marriage. This includes a first child, a new job, a death in the family, an empty nest, and the aging process. These offer an occasion for the renewal of the commitment of a couple. A shift in ministry or assignment for a priest is an occasion of grace for a renewed commitment. It is a chance to take up one's ministry with new deliberateness.
This requires discernment. Contemporary resources can lighten the load of such transitions. Healthy people in transition avail themselves of the help afforded by Christ-centered psychology. People can seek advice from people who have gone down this pathway before. Life coaches and mentors can offer perspective and encouragement. This can be beneficial.
Yet, this help is insufficient. Another dimension is faith. We believe our lives are more than the sum of biological, psychological, and sociological processes. They are a journey to God. Discernment enables us to identify and embrace this journey to God. We view events and movements in light of our faith.
The shape and dimensions of one’s relationship with God are not always evident. Thus, discernment starts with personal prayer. It includes speaking with a trusted spiritual director, mentor, confessor, or prayer partner. These conversations uncover the meaning of the change or transition in light of one's relationship with God.
Discernment reads events with the eyes of faith. How does such a transition bear on our relationship with God? How might it draw us closer to God? What response is being summoned from us?
Another aspect of such discernment has to do with “detachment.” Every movement forward in the spiritual journey is also a departure, a letting go. What do we need to leave behind or jettison? Some detachment is easily identified because it involves letting go of stuff.
A more subtle and significant invitation involves an inner detachment. This might include reluctance, fear, or old insecurities. This detachment is “apostolic” because it connects with our “mission” in life.
The discernment process may touch on very practical matters. One is called to detachment and departure. Yet, some continuity and connection can remain. To what extent? In what way? For how long? Human wisdom offers a perspective on these questions. God's holy wisdom offers a perspective that enables us to identify God's specific will and direction.
Programmatic responses to transition are necessary. Healthy transition does not just happen. Something systematic needs to be in place. This can address the event, the tasks, the challenges, and the discernment of the transition process. Four essential ingredients can help:
(1) Sharing the experience,
(2) Apt solitude and silence,
(3) Appropriate breaks,
Sharing of Experience. In large measure, managing the transition process belongs to the individual. It should not be done in isolation. Experiences should be shared with other priests, religious, parents, couples, friends, or colleagues. They can contextualize one’s particular journey. a person can draw strength and support from others. This offers comfort. It also offers an opening to be challenged when necessary. Confession and spiritual guidance from a priest, religious or prayerful layperson is also a necessary component.
Apt Solitude and Silence. Solitude cannot be programmed. But, conditions for it can be arranged. In solitude and quiet, a person can notice what is happening in their vocation, occupation, their ministry, and their life. In quiet moments a person can move beyond just managing the transition. They can allow themselves to be carried by the love of God and the faith of the people they serve. In solitude, one can arrive at a stable center in Jesus Christ who is beyond all change.
Appropriate Breaks. Breaks for refreshment, healthy entertainment, and recreation need to be scheduled. Sabbaticals (if possible) are an appropriate break in the transition process. Extended periods of study, prayer, and rest between assignments are necessary. A retreat or extended vacation can create space in the transition and be useful. Whatever the form, appropriate breaks are essential. They engage the transition process with purpose and intention.
Follow-Up. It is helpful to have a designated person (or persons), in place to accompany a person in transition. The designated person can offer encouragement. They can challenge the person in transition when necessary. They may help to identify and facilitate the need for time away on vacation or retreat. Most importantly, they can remind others that this transition is a holy moment. It is a part of the Church's larger mission and an offer of grace.
St. Raymond School is having its annual Christmas Show this Thursday, December 22, 2022, at 6:30 pm in the Church!
Advent Life Groups- Remember that Jesus is the reason for the season! St. Raymond Advent Life Groups continue through December 22nd. Did you forget to join a group? No worries! The material used each week will be included here for use at home. You, too can experience Jesus through prayer, scripture, and reflection. A more spiritual you is the best gift that can be given! Contact Minta Brown at 610-329-7256 with any questions.
It is evident that the Spirit of Generosity continues to thrive here at St. Raymond’s. We are most grateful for the abundance of items that were donated for our Annual Christmas Outreach to homeless shelters in our city. It is through compassionate people like yourself that our Social Ministry is able to provide assistance for those in need. We pray that God will return to you one hundred-fold for the kindness that you bestow on others. On behalf of the families who benefited from your generosity, again we say, Thank You!
Have a blessed 2023!
Christmas Eve (Saturday, 12/24),
7:00 pm, no 5:00 pm service
Christmas day (Sunday, 12/25), 8:00 am and 10:00 am
New Year’s Eve Vigil (Saturday)
5:00 pm; Holy Hour 10:00 pm
followed by Mass at 11:00 pm
Feast day 12/21/22. St. Peter Canisius (Peter Kanis; 1521-1597) is honored as a Doctor of the Church for his heroic defense of Catholicism through teaching, preaching, and writing catechisms. He was also one of the giants of the young Society of Jesus, serving as the first provincial of Germany, a post he held for 14 years. A man of great energy, he founded 18 colleges and authored 37 books; his catechisms went through 200 printings in his lifetime alone.
Born in Nijmegen, Netherlands, he studied at the University of Cologne where he earned a master's degree in May 1540. He changed his original plan to remain at the university and study theology when he heard about a newly-founded religious order, the Society of Jesus. One of its founders was then at Mainz, so Canisius traveled there to meet Father Peter Faber. The Jesuit appreciated Canisius' potential and agreed to lead him through the 30-day retreat known as the Spiritual Exercises. During the second week of the retreat, Canisius made an election to join the Society and Faber accepted him as a novice on his 22nd birthday, May 8, 1543.
Canisius returned to Cologne and finished his studies in theology and then was ordained in 1546. Even before he became a priest, he taught Scripture and published new editions of the texts of Cyril of Alexandria and Leo the Great. Then he served as a theological consultant to Cardinal Otto Truchess at the Council of Trent before going to Messina, Sicily, to teach in the very first school the Society founded. In September 1549 Pope Paul III asked him to return to Germany to head an effort to defend the Church against the attacks of reformers. The young Jesuit received the almost impossible mission of halting the defections of Catholics and winning back those who had already left the Church. Canisius first went to Ingolstadt, Germany, and established a pattern he would follow elsewhere. He began teaching at the university but also devoted great efforts to preaching so that he could explain the fundamental truths of Catholic teaching from the pulpit. His work had an immediate impact on Catholics there.
Canisius subsequently taught and preached in Vienna, Prague, and Fribourg. He also founded seminaries and colleges. During his time in Vienna Canisius first developed the catechism for which he is most known. Written in Latin, Summary of Christian Doctrine was published in April 1555 and devoted most of its attention to the theological points of controversy between Catholics and Protestants. Aimed at college students, it was followed by shorter versions for secondary students and for children.
As the first provincial of Germany, Canisius made a huge contribution to Jesuit governance in the region that included Swabia, Bavaria, Austria, and Hungary. He visited Jesuit houses, supervised expansion, and made the Society of Jesus a leading force in the Counter-Reformation. He also took part in ecumenical gatherings such as the one in Regensburg (1556-1557) and returned to the Council of Trent in May 1562. Canisius lived a full life and died peacefully at age 76 in Fribourg, Switzerland.
Originally Collected and edited by: Tom Rochford, SJ
12/23/2022 Saint John of Kanty (Cantius), Priest 1390–1473 Nature spoke loudly into one ear and Christ into the other, reminding him of life’s fleeting nature, that the “here and now” must one day cede to the “there and then.” John of Kanty (or John Cantius) was impressively unimpressed with all that the world had to offer. Saint John’s prodigious intellectual gifts could have garnished his life with a fair share of the world’s riches if he had desired them. But the only glory Saint John sought was knowledge of God, the hard floor he slept on every night, and the hunger that seasoned what little food he ate. Saint John was a gifted student at Poland’s University of Krakow, who after priestly ordination became a professor of philosophy, theology, and Scripture there. Apart from a few years interlude serving in a parish, he spent all of his adult life as a professor.
From an external perspective, Saint John lived a mundane, predictable existence. It is in keeping with his personal history that he is one of the most obscure saints on the Church’s liturgical calendar. His life was like a flat plain, without great events jutting up like mountains from the even, everyday terrain. Saint John was a humble scholar who sought no legacy through wealth, fame, property, marriage, or offspring. Such goods were arrows that glanced off his spiritual armor. He did not want to cheat death by colluding with the desires of his fallen nature. His mind, his body, and his life would serve no one and nothing except Christ and His Church. Such a serious, mortified life is not for the many, but a few are indeed called to live it. After his death, John’s holiness and academic excellence were so highly esteemed that his doctoral gown was long placed on the shoulders of the University of Krakow’s doctoral graduates to ceremoniously vest them. On a pilgrimage to Krakow in 1997, Saint John’s countryman Pope Saint John Paul II prayed at his tomb, noting that his fellow Krakovian’s life exemplified what emerges when “knowledge and wisdom seek a covenant with holiness.”
Notable Black Catholics in this week's history corner
12/17/1996 Pierre Toussaint declared Venerable by Pope John Paul II
On December 17, 1996, Pope John Paul II declared Pierre Toussaint, Venerable, thus placing him firmly on the road to becoming North America's first black saint. Venerable Pierre Toussaint was a man who was proud of his faith, proud of his culture, and committed to serving others.
Toussaint was brought to New York from Haiti as a slave by his masters, the Bérard family. After the death of Mr. Bérard, Toussaint supported Mrs. Bérard financially out of Christian charity until she remarried. He became a hairdresser at about the age of 20, while still enslaved by the Bérard family. Once in New York, he became the hairdresser of preference—and thus the confidante, of NY’s high society.
He was highly regarded for his professional abilities, but more importantly because he would always listen to the problems of his clients with profound empathy and with a supernatural perspective. He was highly regarded for honoring the trust put in him and would boldly refrain from gossip, especially when someone would try to elicit it in him. “The man is a hairdresser. He is no news journal,” he once responded to a gossipy client.
At his parish, St. Peter’s Church in Lower Manhattan, he joined the Blessed Sacrament Society and the Benevolence Society. He donated generously and personally visited the sick and poor. He and his wife Juliette—who had her own business—accomplished significant wealth, but also gave generously, especially to Catholic ministries related to orphans. He was one of the main fundraisers for Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton’s orphanage in New York...even though it only served white children.
Toussaint was also a generous donor to the Oblate Sisters of Providence—the first community of black religious—and supported their orphanage. In 1991, Cardinal John O'Connor began the official process for his beatification and had Toussaint's body exhumed and reinterred in St. Patrick's Cathedral. He became the first layman to be buried in the crypt below the main altar, an enormous honor.
12/19/1891 Charles Uncles SSJ, 1st Black Priest ordained in U.S. Father Charles Randolph Uncles was the first African American man ordained to the priesthood in the United States. Baltimore Cardinal James Gibbons ordained him and nine other men as priests on Dec. 19, 1891.
Father Uncles was 31 years old at his ordination, and he had been active in his Catholic parish growing up, attending the parish school when he was very young. He primarily attended public schools, particularly the Baltimore Normal School for Colored Teachers, the predecessor of Bowie State University. He worked his way through school as a typesetter at a printing house. But after completing work at the Baltimore Normal School, he ran a school outside of the city of Baltimore for several years.
He presided at his first public Mass there at 5 a.m. on Christmas morning about a week after his ordination. Accounts of the first Mass describe a massive crowd forming at this extremely early hour. The Baltimore Afro-American described the scene as follows: “Never before at such an hour had such a crowd been out in the street with Catholics mustering in force; and perhaps never before such music and such a blaze of light and such lavish ornamentation of the altars surround the tall, handsome, fair, young Afro-American priest.”
Many Many Thanks to all the helpers who came out last week to decorate the Church for Christmas!
Calling all helpers!
We need helpers this Saturday,
December 24th, at 10:00 am, to complete our Christmas Decoration preparations.
REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN!
REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN!
Congress XIII (2023)
Announcing the Congress Theme — “Write the Vision:
A Prophetic Call to Thrive”
July 20-23, 2023
The Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center
201 Waterfront Street, National Harbor, MD 20745 https://nbccongress.org
Men of St. Raymond
Save the Date March 4, 2023
Man Up Philly 2023 will be here before you know it. Please reserve the date on your calendar. More Information to follow in the months to come.
Let's bring people back to the pews.
We ask parishioners to sign up to answer a question about their faith and why they worship at St. Raymond. After the interview, we would like to post it on Social Media and play it before Mass.
Can you help?
Does it sound like something you can do?
Call the office and let us know.