Saturday, May 17, 2008

Where do bishops come from???

Hey class of 08, before you "check out" for the year, you ought to check out this article on how bishops are named. We recently discussed this process in general, but this deals Specifically with the diocese of New York. Very informative.

Also, the Criterion this week featured a picture of the papal nuncio to the U.S., Archbishop Pietro Sambi. See you soon for you LAST WEEK of class!
Ad Jesum per Mariam,
Mr. B

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Holy Orders Review Questions

1. Which tribe of Israel were given the responsibility of the priesthood?

2. What was the role of the priesthood in the ancient Jewish faith?

3. How was the Jewish priests’ ministry insufficient?

4. Define the word “ordo”?

5. What are the three levels of Holy Orders?

6. When were the first deacons ordained, and what problem were they to address?

7. Compare and contrast the two types of Deacon. How are they similar? How are they different?

8. What are the main elements of a deacon’s ministry?

9. Why were priests ordained?

10. What is at the heart of the priest’s ministry?

11. What are the other elements of his ministry in addition to the primary one?

12. What are the two types of priest that we discussed?

13. What are the vestments of a priest and how are they different from those of a deacon?

14. Who were the first bishops?

15. What is the difference between an apostle and a disciple?

16. What are the symbols of a bishop and what do they represent?

17. What are the different types of bishop?

18. How does the appointment of a bishop take place?

19. What are the four aspects of formation for holy orders?

Study study study- i'll be available after school for questions.

Ad Jesum per Mariam,

Mr. B

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Religious Life Test Coming Soon

Our Test over Religious Life will be Wednesday & Thursday, which means we have Monday & Tuesday to Review.

All of the power point notes from class are available on

I wil be available after school until 4:oo if you have any questions.

Ad Jesum per Mariam,
Mr. B

The Pope wanted you to know...

Who bears witness to the Good News of Jesus on the streets, in the troubled neighborhoods of large cities, in the places where the young gather, seeking someone in whom they can trust? God is our origin and our destination, and Jesus the way. The path of that journey twists and turns ─ just as it did for our saints ─ through the joys and the trials of ordinary, everyday life: within your families, at school or college, during your recreation activities, and in your parish communities. All these places are marked by the culture in which you are growing up. As young Americans you are offered many opportunities for personal development, and you are brought up with a sense of generosity, service and fairness. Yet you do not need me to tell you that there are also difficulties: activities and mindsets which stifle hope, pathways which seem to lead to happiness and fulfillment but in fact end only in confusion and fear.

The power to destroy... never triumphs; it is defeated. This is the essence of the hope that defines us as Christians; The One who shows us the way beyond death is the One who shows us how to overcome destruction and fear: thus it is Jesus who is the true teacher of life . His death and resurrection mean that we can say to the Father “you have restored us to life!”

(T)he dreams and longings that young people pursue can so easily be shattered or destroyed. I am thinking of those affected by drug and substance abuse, homelessness and poverty, racism, violence, and degradation – especially of girls and women. While the causes of these problems are complex, all have in common a poisoned attitude of mind which results in people being treated as mere objects ─ a callousness of heart takes hold which first ignores, then ridicules, the God-given dignity of every human being. Such tragedies also point to what might have been and what could be, were there other hands – your hands – reaching out. I encourage you to invite others, especially the vulnerable and the innocent, to join you along the way of goodness and hope.

The second area of darkness – that which affects the mind – often goes unnoticed, and for this reason is particularly sinister. The manipulation of truth distorts our perception of reality, and tarnishes our imagination and aspirations. I have already mentioned the many liberties which you are fortunate enough to enjoy... Yet freedom is a delicate value. It can be misunderstood or misused so as to lead not to the happiness which we all expect it to yield, but to a dark arena of manipulation in which our understanding of self and the world becomes confused, or even distorted by those who have an ulterior agenda.

Dear friends, truth is not an imposition. Nor is it simply a set of rules. It is a discovery of the One who never fails us; the One whom we can always trust. In seeking truth we come to live by belief because ultimately truth is a person: Jesus Christ. That is why authentic freedom is not an opting out. It is an opting in; nothing less than letting go of self and allowing oneself to be drawn into Christ’s very being for others (cf. Spe Salvi, 28).

At times, however, we are tempted to close in on ourselves, to doubt the strength of Christ’s radiance, to limit the horizon of hope. Take courage! Fix your gaze on our saints. The diversity of their experience of God’s presence prompts us to discover anew the breadth and depth of Christianity. Let your imaginations soar freely along the limitless expanse of the horizons of Christian discipleship...Dear friends, the example of the saints invites us, then, to consider four essential aspects of the treasure of our faith: personal prayer and silence, liturgical prayer, charity in action, and vocations.

As the saints teach us so vividly, prayer becomes hope in action. Christ was their constant companion, with whom they conversed at every step of their journey for others.
There is another aspect of prayer which we need to remember: silent contemplation. Saint John, for example, tells us that to embrace God’s revelation we must first listen, then respond by proclaiming what we have heard and seen.

Have we perhaps lost something of the art of listening? Do you leave space to hear God’s whisper, calling you forth into goodness? Friends, do not be afraid of silence or stillness, listen to God, adore him in the Eucharist. Let his word shape your journey as an unfolding of holiness.

In the liturgy we find the whole Church at prayer. The word liturgy means the participation of God’s people in “the work of Christ the Priest and of His Body which is the Church”. What is that work? First of all it refers to Christ’s...Paschal Mystery... Through the liturgy, the “work of Jesus” is continually brought into contact with history; with our lives in order to shape them.

Here we catch another glimpse of the grandeur of our Christian faith. Whenever you gather for Mass, when you go to Confession, whenever you celebrate any of the sacraments, Jesus is at work. Through the Holy Spirit, he draws you to himself, into his sacrificial love of the Father which becomes love for all. We see then that the Church’s liturgy is a ministry of hope for humanity. Your faithful participation, is an active hope which helps to keep the world – saints and sinners alike – open to God; this is the truly human hope we offer everyone.

Contemplating Jesus on the Cross we see love in its most radical form. We can begin to imagine the path of love along which we must move... The opportunities to make this journey are abundant. Look about you with Christ’s eyes, listen with his ears, feel and think with his heart and mind. Are you ready to give all as he did for truth and justice? Many of the examples of the suffering which our saints responded to with compassion are still found here in this city and beyond. And new injustices have arisen: some are complex and stem from the exploitation of the heart and manipulation of the mind; even our common habitat, the earth itself, groans under the weight of consumerist greed and irresponsible exploitation. We must listen deeply. We must respond with a renewed social action that stems from the universal love that knows no bounds. In this way, we ensure that our works of mercy and justice become hope in action for others.

Powerful stuff. We will reflect on this and the rest of his message in class.
Ad Jesum per Mariam,
Mr. B

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Marriage Study Guide

Three Types of Love

Pre-Christian Motives for Marriage

Compare and Contrast Christ’s view of marriage with that held by his contemporaries
a. Divorce was permissable
b. Contract vs. Covenant

Understand how a Christian Marriage is intended to be a “Reflection of Divine Love”
- The covenant of spouses is a mirror of the Covenant God made with mankind.
- This covenant is based on all three types of love
What are the three effects of the Sacrament of Marriage:
1. Perfects Human Love
2. Strengthens the Indissolubility of the Bond
3. Provides the Grace needed to be spouses & parents
Though these gifts are given initially at the wedding, they are renewed each day of the marriage.

The Celebration of Marriage (Wedding in the context of Mass)
A. Procession – in whatever order, it is a symbol of the Journey to God and draws attention to the fact that marriage is a means of sanctification of the spouses.
B. Liturgy of the Word – readings following the same format used at mass (Old Testament, Psalm, Epistle, Gospel). All of the readings reflect God’s plan for married love and the reflection of divine love found in the context of marriage.
C. Questions – to ensure the bride and groom are freely entering into marriage and understand what the mind of the Church is in regard to marriage.
D. Exchange of Consent (Vows) making a promise to be faithful for life
E. Exchange of Rings – a sign of permanent love and fidelity
F. Intercessions / Petitions
G. Liturgy of the Eucharist (with special NUPTIAL BLESSING before the sign of peace)
H. Cultural Rites
a. Taking flowers to the altar of the Blessed Virgin
b. joining with a double Rosary
c. Jumping the Broom
d. exchange of coins
e. binding wrists or draping with a tartan
f. the “unity candle”

Sexuality & Marriage
1. Unitive
2. Procreative

Opposition to Cohabitation
Temptation to Fornication
Violation of Chastiy
“Training for Divorce”

Opposition to Birth Control in All Forms
1. Barriers
2. Chemical / Hormone
3. Behaviors
4. Surgeries
Humanae Vitae - Pope Paul VI
Evangelium Vitae – Pope John Paul II
Love & Responsibility – Pope John Paul II

When Things Fall Apart
annulment vs. divorce - how are they different?

Ad Jesum per Mariam,
Mr. B

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Single Life

We have been debating in class whether or not the single life is in fact a bona fide vocation. The question is, does God call some people to remain single for life, but not to enter the priesthood or religious life?

The Negative Response:

Those who say, "No, the single life is not a vocation" have a number of valid points:

1. The single state seems to be a transitional period. We are all born single, and we remain single only until we discern our calling to another state.

2. Scripture seems to suppor the idea that the single life was not part of God's plan for humanity.

In Genesis 2: 18 God says, "It is not good for man to be alone. I shall make a partner for him."

3. Unlike marriage, priesthood, or religious life, single life does not require a commitment to anything beyond one's self. A true vocation requires dedication to a person or group outside of yourself.

4. Most single people consider themselves open to the idea of marriage, but either have not found the right person, have given priority to their career, or simply are unwilling or unable to make the type of commitment required to enter into marriage or another vocation.

A metaphor to help understand this position would be that of an airplane. In this metaphor, an airplane on the ground would be the single life, and flying would be a vocation. When airplanes are made they are on the ground. Because of gravity, they remain on the ground. But airplanes are made to fly. Though they may wait at the airport for people to board the plane, or for repairs, or fuel, they eventually fulfill their purpose when they hit the runway and take off. Just because a plane might not be flying does not mean that it was built to sit on the ground.

The Positive Response:

Equally, those who support the idea of the single life as a vocation are not without their share of supporting arguments:

1. We know that by virtue of our baptism EVERY Christian shares in the Universal Call to Holiness. Therefore if someone is NOT called to the priesthood, marriage, or religious life they must be called to the single life as it is the only other option available.

2. Some people see their careers or other commitments as part of their vocation, and these commitments may not allow for marriage or entering into another vocation. For example careers in medicine and law require a high degree of dedication, which might preclude another vocation.

3. Scripture seems to support the idea that remaining single is preferable to marriage. In Matthew 19: 12 Jesus says, "Some have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it."

4. The Church opposes people engaging in homosexual relationships, and it cannot sanction or bless a so-called union of homosexual persons. Therefore, if one is a homosexual the dedicated single life is his or her vocation.

I don't have a metaphor for this one yet. I'm open to suggestions. You can e-mail them to me or submit them via school web lockers.

Take a look at this article for another perspective on the single vocation.

Until next time,
Ad Jesum per Mariam.
Mr. B

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Unit 3 - Formation

We have finally undertaken our Formation project.

Every vocation has responsibilities and duties associate with it. In order to be prepared to undertake these responsibilities we go through a process of education and experience known as formation.

Your project is to first examine some Church documents regarding formation, then look to some real-life examples of how that formation takes place. You will put your findings together in a brief lesson and powerpoint presentation to share with the class.

Use the links at the left to assist you in your research.

The Lesson Plan should include the following areas:

Aspects of Formation
Length / Stages of Formation
Director(s) of Formation
Location of Formation
Goals of the Formation

The lesson should include a handout for members of the class highlighting the main points above. There should also be reflection questions for discussion.

You will need to consult the appropriate ecclesial documents for reference, as well as a variety of other sources (4 - 6 total).

Final product should be a power point presentation of 12 to 15 slides (max 20) to present the above material to your peers.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Unit 2 - Sacrifice

That we should embrace sacrifice as part of our vocation is rather foreign to us. Society tells us that we should direct all of our efforts to what makes us happy here and now. Delaying or denying satisfaction is not valued very highly.

So why, then, does every vocation involve sacrifice? Doesn't God want us to be happy?

Ultimately, yes He does, but knowing that sacrifice is salvific (that is, it aids us in our salvation), he calls us to imitate his Son who was the ultimate sacrifice for humanity.

Numerous times Jesus calls us to sacrifice in the Gospels.

Examine two of the following passages and write a paragraph answer the following questions:
1. Where is the call to sacrifice in this passage?
2. Who is Jesus calling to sacrifice?
3. How does the call relate to those living the life of discipleship in this, or any age?

6:19-21 Real Treasure
6:24 – You cannot serve both God and Wealth
8:18-22 Let the dead bury the dead. (the importance of dropping everything to follow Jesus)
10:37-39 The Conditions of Discipleship
16:24-48 More Conditions of Discipleship
19:1-12 Teaching on Celibacy
19:16-30 Giving up Everything
25:14-30 The parable of the talent

8:34-38 Conditions of Discipleship
9:33-37 Taking the Lowest Place among society
10:17-31 the Rich Young Man
12:41-44 The Poor Widow (sacrifice even when you have little)

5:1-11 Calling of Disciples
6:27-36 The importance of giving freely
9:23-26 Conditions of Discipleship
9:46-48 The least are the greatest
9:59-62 Would-be followers of Christ
12:13-15 Against Greed
12:16-21 Treasures in Heaven
12:22-34 Treasures in Heaven pt. 2
13:22-30 The Narrow Door
18:18-23 The Rich Official
18:24-30 Renounce Riches
21:1-4 The Poor Widow

Monday, February 4, 2008

Unit 2 - Sacrifice

Before moving into our second full-fledged unit we will stop and examine a few Chapters from Fr. William Miscamble's collection of homilies given at the University of Notre Dame, entitled Keeping the Faith, Making a Difference.

We will then take a brief, but systematic look at the sacrifices that are part of any given vocation.

Before doing all of that, however, I would like to set you to work on your project for Unit 3, Formation. Simply stated, every vocation has responsibilities, and one must be prepared by education and experience to take on a responsibility. Therefore, every vocation is preceded by formation.

Rather than teach the unit myself, we will be breaking up the various vocations and you will be presenting on the formation for one specific vocation - while taking good notes as your peers present as well.

Helpful links can be found in the sidebar - please note that if you are studying single life I am yet to add these, but will do so shortly.

Ad Jesum per Mariam,
Mr. B

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Discernment is a process of clarifying that which is unclear or revealing that which is hidden. It typically requires great attention to detail.

For example, when a friend passes you a note and their penmanship is awful, you have to discern what it was that he wrote.

Question: Why, if God has a call for us, is it unclear or "hidden"? Why not just drop us a letter in the mail that reads,

"Dear Child, made in my own image, I call you to be a _________. Please amend your life accordingly.
Your (Almighty) Creator, God."

Answer: It is NOT that God wants you to suffer in confusion or darkness. Rather, God respects one of the characteristics with which he endowed each of us - Free Will. God wills that we desire to first of all discover our vocation, and then that we pursue it.

Helpful Tools in the Discernment Process:
Prayer - which is, of course, a conversation with God. In discerning God's will it is particularly important that we emphasize our listening role within that conversation. Reading scripture, attending Church, and participating in various devotions with an open heart and mind are good ways to "listen" to God.

God does not speak to us using a loud, booming voice. Instead it is a quiet, subtle voice, which requires us to make an effort to hear it. Consider this: In your car you probably have a radio with a number of pre-set station buttons. When you turn on the radio you do not hear all of these stations at the same time. You have to be "tuned in" to the right station (and therefore tune out the others).

Likewise, listening to God requires that we "tune out" many of the other voices in our lives in order to hear the voice of God. Consider some of the "pre-sets" that are always on your "life radio": 1. Television 2. Music 3. Friends 4. Parents & Siblings

All of these are telling us, directly or indirectly, what to think, what to do, even what to wear. Discernment is about tuning out many of those other voices and tuning in God's - maybe even putting him as your number 1 preset.

Other Tools:
2. Experts - if you want to know more about a given vocation, it only makes sense that you would talk to someone who is currently living that vocation. You can gain invaluable insight from those who have been down the road upon which we are about to embark.

3. Reading - we may not have many living experts within the circle of people we know. However, the biographies and journals of these people are only as far away as the library or a bookstore. (Many such resources are even available on the internet.)

4. Outward Focus - President John F. Kennedy encouraged citizens with the oft-quoted phrase, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." This is the essence of an outward focus. Look at your community, or even the world at large, and ask yourself, "what does the world need from me?" This can open our eyes to things we never imagined as vocations.

5. Self-Knowledge - Discerning a vocation is pointless if we do not know who it is (ourselves) that God is calling. This means knowing our strengths, weaknesses, passions,

Vocation Defined

A Vocation is a calling from God for you to attain a particular state in life.

It is derived from the Latin word vocare meaning "to call".

Vocation is not limited to callings to the priesthood or other church-related roles. Likewise, Vocation can include (but is certainly not limited to) one's career.

The Vocations we will be examining this semester are:
  • Priesthood
  • Religious Life
  • Marriage
  • Permanent Diaconate (Deacons)
  • Committed Single Life

Finally, every vocation develops through stages, and all share five of these in common:

  1. Discernment
  2. Challenges / Sacrifice
  3. Formation
  4. Commitment
  5. Fulfillment

We will discuss each stage in detail, beginning next time with Discernment. Until then,

Ad Jesum per Mariam,

Mr. B

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Know Thyself

Socrates said that "the unexamined life is not worth living." As Catholics we believe that ALL life is sacred. Nonetheless, we would do well to examine our own lives so that we may better appreciate God's great gift of life.

We began by examining a few simple positives in our lives: The things we enjoy, the things we are good at doing, the way we contribute to our comminities, and the reasons people like us. It is important to know our strengths, and to occasionally lift our spirits by reflecting on our accomplishments.

However, we must not neglect the parts of our life that we view as flaws or shortcomings. These are part of our identity as well. I have asked you to write a reflection paper on this "Dark Side"

The purpose is not to give you reason to be down on yourself, but rather the opportunity to ask, "How did I get this characteristic? Why do I have it?" If we desire to eliminate a given flaw or shortcoming, then this is the first step. And it may be in the end, that the "flaw" is actually a gift or a blessing, or something that is not so bad after all. The point is that we never know until we look.

Ad Jesum per Mariam,
Mr. B.