Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Undeniable Attraction of Pure Catholic Life

Newly Baptized and Received into the Church This Past Easter
Everyone is fighting. Citizens, athletes, members of the Church. If you frequent social media, everybody is arguing about . . . everything    . . . and accusing their opponents of the same things for which they themselves are guilty. 

Here's what I'd like to offer:

Whenever we have a visitor at daily Mass at the BU Catholic Center, I like to watch their surprised reaction when, after I impart the final blessing, all of the students kneel down and spend time in thanksgiving. Nobody has ever cajoled them into doing that.  It's something that's just become natural to them. Some stay for a few minutes and some stay for twenty. It's beautiful to witness. The quiet, stillness, and devotion of those moments is like an oasis.

Today before Mass, I sat on a stone bench outside of the University Chapel because someone asked me to hear his confession. (For Sunday Mass we use the interdenominational chapel, so there is no confessional). As soon as one person noticed that I was hearing a confession, a line of students formed.  It's kind of beautiful to sit there as people pass by. Whether they believe in the power of the sacraments or not, whether they believe in God or not, these passers by cannot but help be struck by the scene.

After every Sunday Mass, I am always impressed by how the students wait in a long line to shake hands with me and to say hello. How did they become so polite, friendly, and mature?  Beautiful.

There is a small group of students who come to the Catholic Center every Sunday evening and make sandwiches for the homeless. Then they go out to the streets and deliver them. It's not a soup kitchen. They don't feed thousands.  They feed a few. 

When you're a preacher, you know whether or not people are paying attention! I'm always amazed and grateful that the students are so attentive during Mass. Actually, in this present culture, I'm amazed that they are at Mass at all. I'm even impressed that a lot of them dress up each week for Mass. 

The students at the BU Catholic Center love each other. And, they reach out to others--not to make their numbers bigger, but to welcome others into the joy of the Catholic life. 

Today after Mass, a student asked me to bless a crucifix that he bought for his room for when he prays. Let that sink in. In today's day and age, there is a graduate student at a very secular university who went out to buy a crucifix and had a priest bless it because he wants to pray in his room.

They are simple things, but there is a purity about them. They do not solve all of the fighting and anger that surrounds us, but they remind me of what is true, and good, and beautiful. These encounters and moments, in their simplicity and purity are REAL.

What saves me are these moments. So, I thought by sharing them, that they might awaken within you a deeper gratitude and hope and a desire to live like this, and not be swept into the constant current of anger and noise.

Amid all of the noise of the world, on a bench on a college campus, students bless themselves and say, "Bless me Father, for I have sinned." This quiet, humble, and pure prayer is far greater than everything that has been or ever will be posted on Facebook or Twitter.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Evangelization: There Is A Clear Choice

St. Paul wrote in his First Letter to the Corinthians, "But we preach Christ Jesus, and Him crucified; a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles." One would think that if Paul were trying to win people over, he might change up the message a bit. How about re-brand the product in order to increase market share? Shouldn't his pastoral and missionary plan be more consumer friendly? And, let's not forget that there were lots of issues going on in the communities to whom Paul was writing and preaching.  There were issues of sexual immorality, factions, lack of attention to the poor, and community members jockeying for position. If St. Paul was trying to build up the parish collection and increase numbers for the parish census, perhaps he should have found a more attractive message than saying everything depended upon one, crucified man. But St. Paul was not trying to convince people to attend his parish. He was trying to save them. He was not afraid to place before them a clear choice.

Two thousand years after St. Paul preached, another saintly apostle arrived on the scene. Pope John Paul II preached all over the world and, in a remarkable way, he powerfully touched the hearts of young people. John Paul's preaching moved the hearts of young people because he trusted Christ and he trusted the desire of young people to be challenged to greatness. He knew that some would reject the Gospel, for thus has it ever been so. He also knew, however, that some would hear this Word and leave everything to follow Christ. John Paul was not afraid to tell the world that there was a choice to be made. There was a choice between life and death. There was a choice between selfishness and true love. There was a choice between light and darkness. There was a choice between Christ and the world. He held out this choice to all. He made it clear that the choice for Christ and His way of life was the most important decision a human being could make. John Paul II was unafraid to announce that this choice had consequences.

To choose Christ--to take up the Cross and follow Him--means that your life will never be the same. It means laying down your life. It means saying no to many things. It means dying to self. Some, like the Rich Young Man in the Gospel, will walk away from this call. And this is truly a source of sadness. For those, however, who accept this call, they become new creations. No matter how many times they may fall along the way, those who follow discover that only in Christ is the true way to happiness.  He makes all things new and leads man to the Father.

It is difficult to put my finger on it, but it feels as though so many current "evangelization" efforts are falling flat because they do not make any definite proposal. They do not offer a clear choice. Instead, it sounds like, "We are trying to keep our parish open and need you to come. Keep doing whatever it is you happen to be doing, but do it here at our parish." This is a long way from "Take up your Cross and follow me." Our efforts often sound more like membership drives than they do the proclamation of the Gospel. Yes, parishes need to be places where people feel welcomed, but they also need to be places where the clear and unambiguous proposal of the Gospel is proclaimed. Evangelization has to be about Jesus Christ more than it is about our parish. Of course parishes and Church institutions should be welcoming, engaging, and friendly. And, of course, we should always be working on those things. But, parishes and other Church communities have to be more than just social clubs. They have to stand as a constant proposal and invitation to people to follow Christ.

The same is true about priestly vocations.  "Do you like to work with people and have a sense of adventure?" is not a helpful vocations promotion. The way to promote healthy vocations is to say, "Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Are you willing to lay down your future and your life in order to be his priest?" Some will say no. Others will say yes. The choice, however, is clear.

When it comes to the moral life, ambiguity does not make the Catholic Church more attractive. In fact, it makes it far less attractive. It is far better to be a Church that proclaims the full truth of the Gospel, than to be a church that appears to hide its moral teachings in the hopes of attracting more members. The Catholic Church is at its best when it clearly teaches the Truth. Part of that truth is that we all are weak and we all stumble and fall. We all struggle. Part of that truth is that when we fall, the Lord is ready to pick us up and put us back on the right path. But, part of that truth is that there is, in fact, a right path. There are many wrong paths. There is only one right path. That path is Christ and Him crucified.

In the Garden of Eden, the serpent attempted to sow ambiguity in the relationship between God and man. "Did God really say this?" Where before there was utter clarity, "You shall not eat of that tree or you will surely die," now there is ambiguity. "Did he really say . . . ?" The serpent attempts to convince man that God's clarity is somehow unloving and untrustworthy. God placed before man a clear command. The serpent introduced ambiguity.

What made John Paul II such a great evangelist is that he trusted Christ and he trusted the human heart. Proposing to others the Truth of the Gospel in a clear and unambiguous way is an act of love. And people--especially young people--respond to this clarity. We can know the Truth because the Truth has revealed Himself. The Truth calls us to greatness. The Truth is the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ loves each human person and calls each person to eternal happiness. The path to happiness, however, demands a response. It requires a clear "yes," or "no." It requires the Cross.

Whenever I heard John Paul II preach, I knew two things. Firstly, I knew that Jesus Christ loved me and secondly, I knew that Jesus Christ--and Him crucified--was the path to eternal life. Both things were crystal clear.

Ambiguity is a fog that leads people astray. What we need in our evangelization efforts is to announce Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

To Some Friends Who Aren't Going to Mass: I Love You and You're in Danger

St. Charles Borromeo
One of the saints of the Church for whom I have devotion is St. Charles Borromeo (1538-84). Recently for my meditation time, I've been reading a newly published collection of his orations, homilies, and writings. St. Charles lived during turbulent times in the life of the Church, and he met those times with pastoral brilliance. He was a true shepherd after the Heart of Christ. He loved his people, was close to them, and was an exemplary pastor. St. Charles was serious about renewal in the Church, and he saw that renewal in the Church had to begin with the interior renewal of individual Catholics, most especially bishops and priests.

In his pastoral advice, St. Charles implores the shepherds of the Church not to become mere observers of their flocks. The shepherds of the Church are men on the watchtower whose duty it is to warn the flock of dangers. Like a true pastor, Charles mentions a common fear that can be present in the shepherds of the Church. He says that we can become hesitant to fulfill our pastoral duty of warning of dangers when, "we see the aroused irritation of mind" of those to whom we are preaching. He says that we can cower from warning them, lest we be rejected and hear them say, "This is how we have been living for a long time, thus did the previous generation live and behave. There is no need to change anything in our way of life."

St. Charles warns that pastors who fail to warn their flocks of such dangers will eventually stand before the "irate judge" who will reproach them and ask, "If you were the watchmen, why were you blind?" "If you were the apostles, why did you forgo apostolic strength and instead do everything for the eyes of men?"As I prayed over these words today, the faces of people whom I love came to mind. Some of them, I know have stopped going to Mass on Sundays. Some of them, I suspect no longer attend or do so only on occasion.

Their faces brought two sentiments to my heart. The first was a great affection. In His goodness, the Lord entrusted these people, at one time or another--now or in the past--to my pastoral care. He appointed me as a watchman to serve them and to warn them of danger. Priests are not like hired hands who have no regard for the sheep. Priests are conformed to the Good Shepherd, and so they love the flock. The flock is not just a job to the shepherd. The shepherd knows his sheep and they know him. There is a beautiful and indescribable affection that the priest has for those whom he is called to shepherd.

The second sentiment that came to my heart when these people came to mind was guilt. I realized that some of them I've just allowed to wander away. I stopped seeing them at Mass (or suspected that they were no longer attending Mass ) and I didn't call out. I may have hinted. I may have opened the door to a conversation, but I didn't say to them, "I'm worried about you. I'm afraid that you are in danger."  Such a dramatic remark risks irritating someone whom I love. Such a remark could spoil the friendly pleasantries that we exchange when we run into one another in person or on social media.

But, God wants more for me than to have pleasant acquaintances. He didn't call me to be a barber or a bartender. He called me to be a shepherd, a watchman. The friendly pleasantries that I share with them are only good if they are instrumental in me being a better shepherd to them. The friendly pleasantries are not an end in themselves. Sometimes, in order to save the friendly pleasantries (which I enjoy), I hesitate to warn the wandering sheep. And not warning the sheep when they are in danger makes one a bad shepherd.

So, as a first step in better fulfilling my priestly obligations, I am writing this post. If you've wandered from the Sunday Mass, you're in serious danger. I tell you that not to burden you, but because I love you. I am offering a warning. (I hope I'm not coming across as a person who harangues or yells at someone for "being a bad Catholic").  In fact, the very first sentiment that my heart feels when I think of you is pastoral love. I'm not judging you or condemning you. I'm just concerned for you. Not worshipping God is serious. Being deprived of the Eucharist is serious. Wandering away from Christ's Church is dangerous. The longer you are away, the more difficult it is to return. The farther away you wander the more precarious is your situation. 

Perhaps at first you felt some guilt or some trepidation? But now, the longer you've been away you think, "Well nothing terrible has happened. I sometimes feel regret, but no lightning bolt has struck me."   What the person in this situation doesn't understand is that the catastrophe has already occurred. The wolf has already attacked. The catastrophe is to be away from the Lord. Gradually, little by little, the sheep is led away. Away from the Lord--away from the Mass--they forget the sound of the shepherd's voice. Soon, they listen to the voice of strangers who only seek to destroy. They listen to the voice of wolves dressed in sheep's clothing. They are seduced by lies....lies which eerily sound like the ambiguous serpent in the garden, "Did God really say . . . ?" 

I am certain about two things. Firstly, if you've been away from the Sunday Mass, you are in serious danger. Secondly, the Good Shepherd loves you and is asking you to return. Oh, one more thing I know: I love you too and if I can help, let me know.

In fact, I love you so much, if I don't see you, I'm going to give you a call.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Joy of the Gospel Preached to a Priest

"First Week." That's what everyone at the BU Catholic Center calls the first week of school. It means much more than just "the first week of school." It means an all-out offensive to reach out, meet, and welcome new students. Every day is filled with events designed to allow new students ("new" meaning first time students and also students who have never been part of the community) to discover the beautiful friendship that exists among the Catholic community at Boston University. It is amazing how much work the Catholic Center students put into "First Week." This year, we had a particularly great First Week. It's completely exhausting (and the next few weeks will be more of the same), but it is that good kind of tired. It's the kind of tired that comes from knowing that the Holy Spirit is at work in our community.

Today (Sunday) kind of marked the end of First Week--even though it really is the beginning of a new week. Our Masses had that "something great is happening" feel. I want to share just one thing that transpired this week.  It was basically the very last thing that happened during First Week. I don't have experiences like this very often, but it really stopped me in my tracks. And, I know that when I try to write about it, it will fall short and not sound all that impressive!

Tonight after our last Mass of the day, I was leaving the church and noticed a young man (a graduate student) whom I had met last Sunday. He was kneeling in prayer. As I passed by, he came over to say hello. We chatted for a few moments about how his first week at BU was going, and then I said, "You always looks so happy."  (He was smiling and just had a very joyful expression on his face.)  He said, "Really?" I said, "Yeah, you're always smiling." What he said in reply was spoken with such purity that it actually made my eyes fill up. Smiling away, he said, "Oh, well I just received Holy Communion."

He didn't say it in a way that sounded "Holy Roller." There was a beautiful purity and sincerity to it. In that moment, I knew that I had just heard the Gospel proclaimed to me. It was like a homily, a retreat, a theological course on the Eucharist all in one brief sentence and in one smile. "Oh, well I just received Holy Communion." These simple words spoken with such joy and purity were a total surprise to me. In that brief moment, I realized that God was speaking to me. God wanted me to love the Eucharist more. God wanted me to believe in the Eucharist more. God wanted me to be filled with greater gratitude and joy for the gift of the Eucharist. That brief encounter was filled with the joy, freshness, and newness that are hallmarks of the Gospel. The Gospel never is old, and its newness and power are never exhausted. 

Although we went on to speak about a few more things, my mind and my heart were still in that moment when he testified to the Eucharist. Even now, a few hours later, I am still struck by that beautiful encounter. The purpose of First Week is to reach out to new students and to evangelize them. This year's First Week culminated in a new student evangelizing me. When we gather--two or three in the Name of Jesus--He is in our midst. He speaks to us and teaches us. We encounter the beauty of truth.

All true Catholic Evangelization begins from and leads to the Eucharist. I bet our churches would be filled if all of the Catholics who received the Eucharist on Sunday had joy and happiness written all over their faces on Monday. People might ask us, "Why are you so happy?"  All we would have to say--with simplicity and purity--is, "Oh I just received Holy Communion yesterday."

Monday, August 21, 2017

Follow the Good Shepherd. Ignore and Unfollow the Ambiguous.

My social media feeds are often filled with replies and responses to the musings of a rather popular social media priest. Many times, the responses are from faithful Catholics who are angry about something this priest has written. His posts are designed to bait faithful Catholics. On cue, they respond harshly to his posts, which then allows him to say, "Look how unchristian these supposed Catholics really are."  

He usually won't come right out and contradict Catholic doctrine, but he masterfully undermines it. Sometimes he says things that are outright false. Either way, he provokes people into responding and, by doing so, stirs up publicity for himself and cleverly gets his message out there to more people.  In other words, the people who do most of his work in spreading his harmful musings, are the people who are arguing with him online. He provokes them into becoming angry so that he and his message appear like the victims, and those defending the Catholic teaching appear (sometimes rightfully so) mean and angry.  

Mystery and ambiguity are not synonymous in the theological life. In the Christian dispensation, Mystery reveals Himself. Mystery is a Truth that we can come to know and to love.  On the other hand, those--especially those entrusted to be shepherds in the Church--who sow ambiguity about God, the Church, and the moral life obscure the Truth. They do not help people to walk in the light. Rather, they lead them deeper into the darkness. The shelf life of such ambiguity is short. Ambiguity does not create converts. Ambiguity does not create vocations to the priesthood and the religious life. Ambiguity does not lead to repentance and the Sacrament of Confession. Ambiguity abandons the Cross, the Sacraments, and doctrine.  Ambiguity is the drunk guy at a bar trying to be a philosopher, "But do we really know that we are here right now?  Maybe we are somewhere else or maybe we don't even exist." Such statements are intended to sound profound, and maybe if you are drunk at 2am, they sound that way. But, if you're sober, they sound absurd because that's what they are.

Undermining the Catholic Faith and sowing ambiguity is not intellectual. Frankly, it's boring, lifeless, and going nowhere. When faithful Catholics take such ambiguity seriously (getting upset and arguing), we give it way too much credit. It's so much better to ignore it. Mystery communicates new life. Ambiguity brings death. Is it upsetting to watch a shepherd lead others astray? Of course it is.  But, perhaps the best fraternal correction that we can offer such a shepherd is to refuse to be his publicity agents.

The Catholic life is truly beautiful. We can defend it best by showing how that life is beautiful and filled with grace and holiness, not by anger and bitterness. The Good Shepherd leads his flock to life giving pastures and He feeds them. Follow Him. Unfollow those who lead astray.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Give Me Jesus

The passing of time intensifies within us the tendency to romanticize the past and to become nostalgic  for a time that never really was. Today, however, I had the opportunity, in a sense, to travel back in time and to discover that the "good o'l days" were, in fact, just as good as I recall. 

This morning, I attended the funeral for a wonderful woman who lived across the street from the house where I grew up.  Despite the fact that every time I saw her over the years she would say, "Call me Simmy," she was always, "Mrs. Koch" to me. During summer evenings the adults would sit out on their porches and yell across the city streets to one another as dozens of neighborhood kids would play games until the street lights came on. Mr. and Mrs. Koch were kind of the patriarch and matriarch of the street, overseeing things from their second floor porch. They were a couple who raised their large family to become men and women who were dedicated to helping others. One of their sons is the mayor of our city now.  He still finds time to shovel my parents walkway when a winter storm comes.

Today at the funeral, Mrs. Koch had maybe a dozen concelebrating priests in the sanctuary and the pews of Sacred Heart Church in North Quincy (pronounced "Quinzee!) were packed. But what most struck me was not the numbers of people in the pews, but the faith that filled that church. Mrs. Koch had the funeral of a believer.  The priest who preached at her Funeral Mass was one of the priests who lived at that parish for decades.  Nearing eighty, he climbed the pulpit steps a bit more slowly than in the days when I was his altar boy.  Once he settled into that pulpit, however, out came the lion of yesteryear, his voice rising and lowering in a style of preaching quickly disappearing from the Catholic landscape. He was masterful in the pulpit . . . just as I recall him being decades ago. 

As he preached, I recalled the many other priests--some present at the Mass and others gone home to God--for whom I served as an altar boy. Before the Mass, one such priest reminded me of the different jobs that I worked in middle school and high school.  He's been gone from that parish for well over 25 years, but he remembered those things.  It reminded me that I grew up in a parish where the priests were close to the people. They knew one another. There was a friendship among the people there.

I ran into many people from my youth there. Many of them didn't recognize me. (I chalk that up to a decline in their eyesight rather than to my aging.)  But there they all were, people who have spent their lives together in that parish. Some have moved elsewhere, but for a moment, it was the old Sacred Heart again. These were the people who sang and danced in parish shows, the kids whom I'd spent weeks with hanging Christmas lights on all the exterior trees around the church when we were in high school. There was the charismatic prayer group of which Mrs. Koch was a leader. There were the people who reminded me that I was a brat as a kid and how I would torment the nuns in the school. 

At the end of the Mass, Mrs. Koch's son, Tommy (the mayor) spoke some words.  He began by saying that when his mother was dying, she told him that he better not use her eulogy to say, "She made great cookies."   He said, "I told her, don't worry, I won't. To be honest, your cookies weren't all that great."  He said that his mother would want him to talk about Jesus.  And that's the truth.  If all anyone had said about Mrs. Koch was that she was a believer, that would have been enough.  In the end, Mrs. Koch was a believer. She loved the Lord. She loved the Eucharist.  I always say that there can be no greater consolation to a family when a loved one dies than to know that the person for whom they mourn loved the Eucharist.  Jesus himself says that whoever eats his flesh and drinks his blood has eternal life.  Everyone in that church today was consoled because none of us can give himself eternal life.  But, for the one who believes and loves the Lord, for the one who loves his Body and His Blood, we have the consolation of His promise. 

After Communion, some of the singers sang a song that I imagine was dear to Mrs. Koch. It simply repeated, "Give Me Jesus." "In the morning when I rise, give me Jesus." "When I am alone, give me Jesus." "When I come to die, give me Jesus."  "Give me Jesus. Give me Jesus. You can have all this world. Just give me Jesus."  Mrs. Koch loved Jesus. There can be no greater consolation to her family than that.  She wanted Jesus. 

I often tell the students who attend Mass at Boston University that their presence at Mass serves as a great witness to me.  You can have a big funeral, but if it isn't about Jesus, it doesn't much matter. What matters is Jesus. Only He is the Resurrection and the Life. Today, as I returned to my home parish and prayed for Mrs. Koch, I saw what happens when people live the Faith together down through the years. Faith means walking when it doesn't always seem so clear.  The church today was filled with people who did just that. They remained faithful over the decades, even when they didn't feel like being faithful. They remained faithful to their vows. They remained faithful to the Lord. They remained faithful to the Church. In the end, fidelity pays off. 

Mrs. Koch had many accomplishments in her life, but her greatest accomplishment was living her life as a faithful disciple of the Lord. If you want to live life well and if you want to end life well, then let your prayer be that of Mrs. Koch's, "Give Me Jesus."

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

"Come, Follow Me" Is As New Today As It Was Then

It's been a long while since I've blogged.  Between a pinched nerve and some laziness, I haven't had the discipline to write recently, but I encountered such beauty during the past few days, that I wanted to share the experience.

Each summer, the Vocations Office for the Archdiocese of Boston hosts a retreat for the Boston seminarians up at the Franciscan Guest House in Kennebunk, Maine.  The retreat is more of a relaxed atmosphere and strikes a healthy balance of prayer, talks, sports, and fun.  This year, I was the speaker for the retreat. The general path that my talks took were: 1. The Seminarian and the Priest need to be faithful to the purity and certitude of their original encounter with Christ; 2. Fraternity and living the Evangelical Counsels of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience, help us to live the memory of our encounter with Christ; 3. Living in the Gaze of Christ makes us able to be Good Shepherds who better prolong the presence of the Good Shepherd in the midst of the flock; 4. And lastly, just some practical advice about being a parish priesthood.

The focus of my talks was that the priest's humanity is critical to being a good shepherd and that we should help one another to live our humanity more fully.  Although that was what I spoke about, of far greater import was the visible witness of the seminarians themselves.  The few days were an extraordinarily beautiful testimony to what fraternity ought to look like.

The retreat was for men studying for the Archdiocese of Boston and included seminarians studying at St. John's Seminary in Brighton, St. John XXIII in Weston, the North American College in Rome, the Redmptoris Mater Seminary in Boston, and Our Lady of Providence College Seminary in Providence Rhode Island.  Since the men attend different seminaries, they have few opportunities to be together.  Several of them commented to me about how great it was to be all together.  The priests from the Vocations Office, Fr. Daniel Hennessey, Fr. Carlos Suarez, and Fr. Eric Cadin did a tremendous job making the retreat a time of true fraternity. Being vocation directors can often be a thankless job.  They deserve to be thanked.

There were other people staying at the Guest House during these days.  This morning, as I was sitting on the porch, a woman came outside and asked, "So, was that you singing last night?"  I asked if we had kept her awake.  She said, "Yes. I went to bed at 9 pm, and I could hear all of those voices singing and instruments playing, and I thought, "Isn't it great to be young? Isn't it great that these seminarians are so joyful?"  She was referring to the fact that last night, all of the seminarians were playing instruments, singing songs, and having an amazingly beautiful and joyful time.  Somebody should have filmed it because it was the best vocation promotion possible.  In front of my eyes were young, joyful men living a true fraternity.

Another joyful part of the days together was hearing the seminarians share their testimonies.  There really is something so moving about hearing them testify to how the Lord called them and how they are responding to that call.  Repeatedly over the past few days, other guests staying there commented how wonderful it was to see such good and joyful men studying for the priesthood.  

It has been my experience that when people see joyful, healthy, intelligent, normal seminarians and priests living in friendship together, they are really moved by the experience.  It is encouraging.  For the readers of this blog who are from Boston, let me assure you that you have some really extraordinary men preparing to be your priests. God is answering your prayers! You will LOVE these guys.

I went to the retreat with the intention of conveying the critical importance of priests being men with a deep humanity and living that humanity in friendship. My words, however, were really just an affirmation of what these men are, in fact, already living and doing.  The retreat was filled with men praying, surfing, fishing, playing soccer and frisbee, singing, and living their calling with a profound humility and sincerity. I'm telling you, what I saw was extraordinary! I went to this retreat hoping that I might impart some words of wisdom. Instead, I simply stated what was already entirely obvious to these guys.

I am very grateful to the priests from the vocations office and to the Boston seminarians for the privilege to be with them these past few days.  In these days together, they allowed me to stand once again in front of Jesus Christ, to see his eyes upon me, to be moved, and to hear once again his invitation, "Come, follow me."