Category Archives: Columns

Kids’ Connection: St. Valentine

Click to download and print this month’s Kids’ Connection on Saint Valentine.

Discerning a Vocation in College

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by Raney Johnson, Diocese of Shreveport Seminarian

Some young men discover their calling to the priesthood in high school and decide to enter the seminary right after graduating from high school. However, others choose to spend a few years in college first, or finish all four years of college before entering the seminary. Along with those who wait to enter the seminary after going to college, some young men learn about their calling to the priesthood while in college.

In my own discernment of the priesthood, I found myself deciding to go to college first instead of joining the seminary right out of high school. I want to offer tips for those discerning a vocation to the priesthood while attending college from my own experience.

The first tip is to stay faithful to attending Mass on Sundays. In the busy schedule of college life, Mass can easily fall by the wayside. There is always the temptation to put the social or academic life of college before the spiritual life, however, the spiritual life, especially the Mass, should always be the bedrock of a young Catholic’s college experience. With mom and dad no longer watching all the time, attending Mass during college becomes an intentional decision. It might help to find a friend or a group of friends to attend Mass with each week. Going to Mass every Sunday is central to the discernment of any vocation, especially the priesthood.

My second tip is to get involved with the different ministries of the Mass. Seminarians have to both lector during the Mass and serve at the altar at some point in their seminary formation. A great way to prepare and become comfortable with this part of seminary formation is to become a lector and/or an altar server during college. I did both during my time at Louisiana Tech, and my love of reading God’s word and serving at the altar helped me to discern that God was calling me to the priesthood. Some other ways to become involved are:  becoming a choir member, usher or extraordinary minister of Holy Communion. These ministries will help a young man discerning the priesthood become comfortable with serving at the Mass.

My third tip is to become actively involved with the Catholic student organization on campus. Most universities have a Catholic student organization and also a campus minister. Any young man discerning a vocation during college should become familiar with both the Catholic student organization and the campus minister. The student organization will provide a great community of fellow Catholic students and offer a great environment to cultivate a vocation to the priesthood during college. Similarly, the campus minister, who might be a priest, a religious or a lay person, can be an excellent help in the discernment of the priesthood. At Louisiana Tech, the student organization is the Association of Catholic Tech Students (ACTS) and the campus minister is Brother Mike Ward. Both helped me in my discernment process in different ways.

This leads me to my fourth tip, find a spiritual director. This could be the priest who serves the university, another priest in the diocese, or another qualified individual. Brother Mike Ward was my spiritual director when I attended Louisiana Tech, and his guidance allowed me to see clearly that God was calling me to go to seminary after college.

As a side note, even if the priest assigned to the university is not the campus minister or the chosen spiritual director, it is still beneficial to develop a relationship with this priest. The priest at Louisiana Tech, Fr. Frank Folino, offered me a great role model of the priestly life and helped me in my discernment to the priesthood as well.

My fifth tip is to grow in the spiritual life during college. For example, it might help to pray the rosary more than once a week, attend at least one daily Mass every week, receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation frequently, and visit Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament during adoration.

My final tip is to find a vocation director to talk to. He will be able to help determine your next step. That next step might be transfering from college to seminary, or it might be finishing college and then joining seminary. Whatever the choice, always let God be at the center of your discernment process and follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

If you would like more information about the priesthood, contact Fr. Jerry Daigle, jdaigle@dioshpt.org, or call 318.868.4441

Second Collections for February

by Fr. Rothell Price, Vicar General 

COLLECTION FOR AID TO THE CHURCH IN CENTRAL and EASTERN EUROPE
Collection Date: Ash Wednesday, February 14th

The Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe supports the Church in 25 countries that are still struggling to recover from the aftermath of communist rule. Funds from this collection support pastoral care, catechesis, building renovations and seminary formation. Your support restores the Church and rebuilds the future in this region. Restore the Church, Build the Future. Please be generous in your sacrificial gift to the Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe.

OPERATION RICE BOWL Program
Participation Dates: February 14th (Ash Wednesday) to April 1st (Easter Sunday)

Operation Rice Bowl is a project of Catholic Relief Services (CRS). This is not the CRS Collection which will be taken up on the 4th Sunday of Lent. This is a Lenten devotion of intentionally pausing each day to unite with the Lord Jesus and the least of His brothers and sisters. Catholic Relief Services is our uniquely Catholic disaster relief agency responding to local, national and international calamities. The Rice Bowl Program (not collection) extends from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. It offers opportunities for your family to engage daily in the spiritual pillars of Lent: prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

Last spring, 2017, the Parish School of Religion students at St. Joseph Parish, Shreveport, donated $775.11 for the CRS RICE BOWL. I was very proud to welcome to the Catholic Center Cynthia Pettiette, Director of Religious Education, Bonnie Vanni and Suji Sujith, PSR teachers there, and most wondrously, Joshua and Theresa Sujith who presented the sacrificial donation of their St. Joseph peers as a gift to the Lord and His Church. I hope to receive donations and visits from more schools and PSR students this year!

This year’s Rice Bowl Program is titled, “Encounter Lent.” Joyfully present your CRS Rice Bowl to your parish priest at the offertory on Easter Sunday. Check out the downloadable CRS Rice Bowl Apps on the bottom of the Rice Bowl, or at crsricebowl.org.

 

COLLECTION FOR THE BLACK & INDIAN MISSIONS
Collection Dates: February 17th & 18th  

The Black and Indian Missions Collection embodies the Church’s concern for evangelizing the black and Indian people of the United States. The funds are distributed as grants to dioceses throughout the United States, supporting and strengthening evangelization programs which otherwise would cease. Your heartfelt participation in the Black and Indian Missions Collection allows the Commission to give helpful grants to dioceses across the country to operate schools, parishes and other missionary services that build the Body of Christ in Native American, Alaska Native and Black Catholic communities.

The Black and Indian Missions Collection assists in acquiring good teachers in schools that would otherwise struggle to stay open, assists dioceses in forming lay ministers and catechists who spread the Gospel in their own communities, and who encourage young African Americans and Native Americans to give their lives to the Lord as priests, brothers or sisters. In Alaska and the arctic regions, your donation assists priests, deacons and catechists who must fly and/or dogsled into remote communities that are otherwise cut off from the world. Give generously and make it possible for the light of Jesus Christ to shine in Alaska, the arctic and across the plains and cities of North America.  •

Navigating the Faith: The Seven Penitential Psalms

by Shelly Bole, Director of Catechesis

The Seven Penitential Psalms are a little known private devotion of our Catholic faith that were prayed by

St. Augustine and his mother, St. Monica, as they neared their deaths. The Penitential Psalms, recited during Lent (traditionally on Friday), remind us of asking God for His mercy when we have sinned, with a true sense of contrition. The Seven Psalms are 6, 32, 38, 51, 102,130 and 143.

These are psalms of lament, living words to help us pray honestly, giving expression to our deepest feelings. Psalm 6 reads, “Do not reprove me in Your anger, Lord, do not punish me in Your wrath. Have pity on me, Lord for my bones are shuddering.” There is a poignancy throughout the psalms which correlate sin to physical and emotional anguish.

As you read and pray with the Psalms, it is important to know the author’s beliefs at the time. For the Jewish psalmist, these are open and honest expressions of pain in the context of faith. As Christians, the Penitential Psalms remind us that our response to sin must be trust in God’s love, confession and repentance.

I invite you to pray with these Penitential Psalms during Lent. There are seven, making it easy to pray one each week. Below you will find a short explanation of each of the psalms along with a reflection question.

Psalm reflections will be available in the Catholic Connections app. The full booklet and reflections can be found at
www.dioshpt.org/ministries/catechesis/

Psalm 6: Prayer in Distress

The psalmist does not claim innocence, but appeals to God’s mercy. Sin here, as often in the Bible, is both the sinful act and its harmful consequences; it is physical sickness and attacks of enemies. The psalmist prays that the effects of personal and social sin be taken away.

Reflection: Which of your sins cause you to “shudder”?  Consider its long-reaching consequences (family, community, etc). Ask God to be merciful as you face this sin. 

Psalm 32: Remission of Sin

The opening declaration – the forgiven are blessed – arises from the psalmist’s own experience. At one time the psalmist was stubborn and closed, a victim of sin’s power, and then became open to the forgiving God. Sin here is not only the personal act of rebellion against God, but also the consequences of that act – frustration and waning of vitality. Having been rescued, the psalmist can teach others the joys of justice and the folly of sin.

Reflection: Is there a sin which “withers your strength?” Talk to God about this and beg His forgiveness.

Psalm 38: Prayer of an Afflicted Sinner

In this lament, the psalmist acknowledges the sin that has brought physical and mental sickness and social ostracism. There is no one to turn to for help; only God can undo the past and restore the psalmist.

Reflection: Which sin makes you physical feel “stooped and deeply bowed?” Ask the Lord to help you stand upright. 

Psalm 51: The Miserere: Prayer of Repentance

This lament prays for the removal of the personal and social disorders that sin has brought. The poem has two parts. The first part asks for deliverance from sin, not just a past act but its emotional, physical and social consequences. The second part seeks something more profound than wiping the slate clean: nearness to God, living by the spirit of God.

Reflection: When do you offer a “sacrifice” to God but your heart is not contrite? Speak about this in Confession.

Psalm 102: Prayer in Time of Distress

The psalmist, experiencing psychological and bodily disintegration, cries out to God. In the temple precincts where God has promised to be present, the psalmist recalls God’s venerable promises to save the poor.

Reflection: Remember a time when your heart felt “withered, dried up and wasted.” Talk to God about this. Listen for His mercy.

Psalm 130: Prayer for Pardon and Mercy

This lament is used in liturgical prayers for the faithful departed. In deep sorrow the psalmist cried to God, asking for mercy. The psalmist’s trust becomes a model for the people.

Reflection: Is there something in your life that you need to “cry out” to the Lord? What emotions come forth as you think about this? Hang out with Jesus and listen to what he says to you. 

Psalm 143: A Prayer for Distress

This lament is a prayer to be freed from death-dealing enemies.  The psalmist addressed God, aware that there is no equality between God and human beings; salvation is a gift. Victimized by evil people, the psalmist remembers God’s past actions on behalf of the innocent. The psalm continues with fervent prayer and a strong desire for guidance and protection.

Reflection: What “guidance and protection” do you need from God right now? Where is God’s mercy most needed in your life?   


Domestic Church: Minimalism Makes Way for Lent

by Katie Sciba

It was five years ago when we were expecting our third child. I looked nervously around our 1200 square-foot home, wondering how we would make our small space fit our growing family. I found the minimalism trend online and it lit a spark. The idea of living simply seemed to equate with living joyfully. I jumped on the minimalism bandwagon, passionately purging the house, and what I found underneath the excess was a not just a home made new, but a transformed heart as well. I soon learned that simple living meant imitating Christ in prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

Our living room took forever to pick up, but after taking a hard look at what we needed and didn’t, cleaning was cut to just a few minutes. One of my biggest excuses for neglecting prayer was a lack of time. Without so much stuff around to clean or maintain, I had more opportunity to pray; but clearing clutter didn’t instantly make way for prayer. I saw that I had extra time, but lacked the discipline to make myself sit in God’s presence. What minimalism did for my prayer life was allow me to know myself better; it unveiled where I truly was and so I was able to take that to Jesus.

Fasting and abstinence also came to light in simplifying. I took the lens of “do I really need this?” and examined my personal food intake and entertainment sources with it. Catholic priest and speaker, Fr. Michael Denk, wrote, “True fasting always involves limiting food so as to hunger…if we can begin to discipline this, it will impact the other areas of our lives.” Genuine fasting can help us become masters of hunger instead of subject to it. Abstaining from and minimizing TV, technology or other sources of entertainment can reveal how we spend our time and whether it encourages closeness with Christ and others.

Giving alms felt less like an obligation and more like a blessing. Detaching from material possessions made stuff less important and people a priority. Simplifying our lives made way for giving freely and frequently. My eyes were opened to the beauty and value of others. Giving alms in light of minimalism underscores the fact that “you can’t take it with you” and that ultimately, we’re all called to Heaven.

“That’s fantastic,” you might think, “but I can’t go bare-bones on living.” The good news is you don’t have to. The most fruitful approach to minimalism is coupling it with prayerful discernment. What we can do is ask the Lord what He wants us to do or be. From that answer, we measure our families’ genuine needs and can more clearly see what among our possessions should stay, and what could serve someone else.

Like any trend, minimalism may disappear from society; but if we regard simplicity as a holy effort, one that can bring a more fruitful Lent, then it goes beyond trends and has lasting impact. Our family has more space, more time to spend in it, and more to give; but by far the most valuable prize of living simply is Jesus.

Faithful Food: Carrying Our Graced Moments Forward

by Kim Long

John Shea, writer, teacher and theological reflector, has a wonderful opening line: “first something happens.”

Something is always happening. In 1974 a family moved in next door to us. The street we lived on had been a quiet one until then. But then a family of seven moved into our 2.5 children, woodgrain station wagoned world. They were wonderful, completely unorthodox, and extremely loving toward one another.

A woman with her six children and all their big love turned our quiet neighborhood on its ear.

A thick hedge separated our two houses and I loved to hide in the big camellia bush and watch their comings and goings. Over time we all became friends and their home became the hub. Problems seemed small there, music sounded sweeter and the food tasted better there. Over the years I have wondered why this was – the family had little money and ate simple food. The ingredient must have been the love they had for one another, the love of a mother of many who stretched to make ends meet. This unassuming grasp of her own reality is what I loved the most. She did not seem to operate under the kind of panic that creates anxiety, simply she knew who she was and what she had to work with and labored under no illusions. And somehow everything worked out.

I recall the family’s faith, not only in God, but in one another, and that, perhaps, as much as the aforementioned love, was the glue which helped hold things together. It is a lesson I have tried to carry forward in my own life.

A few weeks ago I went to see this matriarch. She has dealt with some health issues, with some reversal in her “situation” but still, she was in many ways the brave, fearless and faithfully loving mother I met in 1974 who welcomed me each time with the words, “Hello baby, come on in.” It was a blessing to see her face and laugh as we recalled old stories. Leaving her was not easy and I hope to see her again soon.

As we approach Lent, this family is on my mind. Perhaps it is the proximity of seeing this matriarch who taught me so much about the kind of mother I wanted to be, perhaps it is the relief of seeing and laughing together after many years as though only a moment had passed, perhaps it is the realization that I am close to the age she was when she enveloped me in her arms, her heart and her family.

Lent is about many things, one of which is facing ourselves when we have come up short, but also being thankful for when we have done well and praying to carry those graced moments forward; a time to truly reflect in the safety of God’s embrace and to have no anxiety as we strain to make adjustments, much like the arms of the woman who became a second mother to me.

I confess I have not always known who I was or where I belonged. I grew up in a tumultuous atmosphere and it showed. Now at 57, I finally have a sense of who I am and where I belong. The road I traveled to learn this was not without price. I have thought of Juanita often and wondered at times what she would have done, but deep in my heart I already knew: she would have had faith in life and she would have loved deeply. I am reminded of two passages, one from tradition and one from scripture.

St. Catherine once said, “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” And from Paul, “Now these three remain, faith, hope and love…and the greatest of these is love.”

May your Lent find you safe in the arms of our loving God and unafraid to reflect on the sum of our lives.

Pancakes ala Juanita


Ingredients:

• 3 eggs

• 1 cup milk (or buttermilk)

• 2 cups self-rising flour

• ⅓ cup safflower oil (any oil except olive, really)

Directions:

1) Crack the eggs and whisk until combined.

2) Add ⅓ cup oil and continue whisking.

3) Once combined add 1 cup milk (or buttermilk).

4) Measure flour into a separate bowl and make a well in the middle. Pour liquid into well and incorporate. If you need to add more milk, do so until the consistency is where you want it.

5) Drop by spoonfuls onto griddle or black iron skillet sprayed with cooking spray. Wait until edges are drying and bubbles are formed and turn ONLY ONCE!

6) Enjoy with butter and syrup or homemade fig preserves (one of Juanita’s favorites).

 

In Review: One Beautiful Dream by Jennifer Fulwiler

reviewed by Kim Long

I confess I had never heard of Jennifer Fulwiler; family chaos, however, is somewhat familiar territory. I read a little bit about her and to be honest was, at my age, prepared to not only dislike her, but to actually disdain her as well. She seemed too good to be true. Plus I wondered if I had “aged out” of her target audience. In a word, NO.

I read the first chapter and she had me. She was me. I had been her. In.
So. Many. Ways. By page 25 she describes God coming into the lives of her and her husband. By her account she was a lifelong atheist and he a non-practicing Christian. Her descriptions are priceless and honest and endearing. For example, “God burst into our lives with all the subtlety of a neutron bomb.” I hadn’t heard it put quite that way before, but I have felt that sensation at times in my life.

In the ensuing short, meaty and heartfelt chapters (not heartfelt like a greeting card, read here: honest, gritty, funny and poignant), Fulwiler maps the journey from active non-belief and practice to immersion into the Catholic lifestyle.

In one chapter she tells of needing a vehicle that can accommodate their entire family with three car seats. Her husband, Joe, found a decent used mini van on Craigslist and they were $1,000 short. The money came to them, but the most interesting part was how – I won’t spoil it for you, but I will tell you these two recognize a blessing at 20 paces.

There are always chapters I read multiple times in almost every book I have ever read. In Fulwiler’s book, it is chapter 10, in which she describes in graceful and honest prose the knowledge of a fourth pregnancy, making a literal hard right turn on the way home from the doctor’s office and into the parking lot of her parish church for a noon Mass where she entered as a bartering daughter and exited into a grace-filled moment.

This book reads like a timeline, a roadmap, and a chat with the one friend who manages to get away with “telling it like it is,” because that friend speaks from experience. There is no judgment, just mutual lamentation and hope.

As a lifelong believer, some of her angst is not my own. I have always believed in God, but not always in myself. Her chronicle, even though written from a different place in our timelines – she still having children, me still searching for crumbs in my now empty nest – resonated with me. She is cool, messy, brutally honest in her self-assessment, faithful and incredibly interesting. I have subscribed to her blog and plan to read her memoir, Something Other Than God.

Intially I thought I was not the “right person” for this review. I am glad this book came to me and, with all books, I am a firm believer that books arrive at the precise moment God intends. My daughter-in-law is expecting her first baby in 10 weeks. This book will be a birthday gift for her. I think she will appreciate the author’s viewpoint and it will ease some of her anxiety about impending motherhood.

If you are like me, past the childbearing years, this is still a wonderful read. If you are like my daughter-in-law, just setting foot on the parenthood trail, it applies. If you are like my friends Amy and Jessica who are  mothers of many, take this book with you in the carpool line or the bathroom and make time to soak in the message Jennifer has for each of us!

Jennifer Fulwiler is host of her own show on Sirius radio called The Jennifer Fulwiler Show on Channel 129. This book is published by Zondervan and is available for pre-order. Don’t wait!

One Beautiful Dream is available to purchase from Zondervan and Amazon.com.  It is available to borrow from the Slattery Library inside the Catholic Center in Shreveport.

Mike’s Meditations: Courageously Ask for God’s Opinion

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by Mike Van Vranken

Someone recently asked me what he could do differently for Lent. I suggested he think of a moral issue about which he’s always had a definite opinion, and to courageously and open-mindedly ask for God’s opinion on the same issue. I gave him the following example. (Remember, this is only an example; you’ll have to prayerfully come up with your own issue).

Suppose you have always supported capital punishment for the worst offenders. For Lent, let’s take that issue to God and see what He thinks. First, pray for the grace of an openness of heart to be able to accept whatever God reveals to you with no preferred outcome of your own.

Next, begin to review some of the positions of the Church over the last 50 years and look for any suggestions that the death penalty is no longer a legitimate form of punishment. An example might be that Pope Paul VI removed the death penalty from the laws of  Vatican City in the 1960’s. You might also read in Pope John Paul II’s 1995 encyclical, The Gospel of Life, that justice must be in line with human dignity and with God’s plan for man and society. He further states that because of improvements in the organization of the penal system any specific cases requiring the “absolute necessity” for the need for capital punishment are “very rare, if not practically non-existent (56).” So, we have one pope saying that the need is practically non-existent, and another pope removing the death penalty from existing law.

You might check the Catechism of the Catholic Church and read that “If bloodless means are sufficient to defend human lives against an aggressor and to protect public order and the safety of person, public authority must limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to the concrete condition of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person (2267).” Again, a common priority in all of these teachings is the dignity of the human person.

Then there is the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (27) that continually stresses the reverence for the human person. It states that whatever is opposed to life itself, whatever violates the integrity of the human person, whatever insults human dignity – these are all infamies. “They poison society, but they do more harm to those who practice them than those who suffer from the injury. Moreover, they are a supreme dishonor to the Creator.” This Vatican II document was influenced by the hand of Pope John Paul II, and was approved by 2,307 votes of the world-wide bishops at Vatican II.

Now you might be reminded that when Thomas Aquinas was teaching on the death penalty, he dismissed the idea that it robbed a person of their possibility of repentance. But, Pope Francis reminds us that the tradition of the Church cannot be kept in mothballs like an old blanket. In speaking of capital punishment, Francis also says it is like a torture inflicted on someone – not only death itself, but the long period, sometimes years, of waiting for their own execution can be an excruciating agony.

There are other resources you can find, but it’s now time to take this to God on a daily basis during Lent; sit with Him and allow Him to penetrate your heart. Pay attention to how you feel about the issue. Talk to Him with frank openness and love. Tell Him what you’ve learned and ask for His opinion. Then just sit quietly. Notice if He is bringing any teaching in particular to your consciousness. If so, sit with it and struggle with it if necessary. Ask Him what He wants you to learn from this prayer session.

Now remember, this issue of the death penalty was just an example. Find your own concern that you would like to lay before God and beg Him to update your opinions and beliefs. Each day during your Lenten journey, keep going back to God with this and try to spend 15 to 20 minutes a day on it. If you don’t have that kind of time, it’s fine. Just do what you can. Continually allow your conversations with Him, your reading and study of sacred scripture, and your research of Church teaching to help you form your own conscience. When you get to Easter, you may find that your former thoughts have been crucified and are now resurrected in a new and better understanding of God’s thoughts on the subject.

Discerning a Vocation in High School

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by Raney Johnson, Diocese of Shreveport Seminarian

High school can be a fun but stressful time. Life can easily become consumed with classes, extracurricular activities, jobs and finding moments to spend time with friends. Added to the stress of all this is the anxiety that comes with thinking about what to do after high school. It can be difficult to see where exactly discerning a vocation fits into the active life of a high school student.

I started discerning my vocation at the end of my freshmen year of high school. Some start the discernment process at the end of their time in high school as seniors. Whether a freshman, sophomore, junior or senior, it is never too late or too early to discern a vocation in high school.

Since my own vocational discernment has been to the priesthood, I’m going to focus on discerning a vocation to the priesthood in high school. However, some of the tips I will give are applicable to the discernment of any vocation while in high school.

My first tip is to find someone to talk to about discerning the priesthood on a regular basis. Thinking back to my freshman and sophomore years, speaking with someone regularly about my desire to be a priest would have been very helpful. I kept my desire to be a priest very private until around the beginning of my junior year. I waited to discuss wanting to become a priest due to a mixture of fear and feeling unworthy of the priesthood. I know other young men discerning the priesthood might experience the same emotions, but these feelings should not be a deterrent to seeking out someone to talk to. The person could be a religious education teacher, a youth director or a priest. Each diocese even has a Church Vocations Director who is specifically charged with helping to discern a vocation. In the Diocese of Shreveport, Fr. Jerry Daigle is the Church Vocations Director.

My next tip is to include mom and dad. This could be a simple heads up that discerning the priesthood is on the radar, or a sit down conversation. Bringing up discerning the priesthood with parents should happen whenever it feels comfortable to do so. Parents only want what is best for their children, so any reservations about a discernment to the priesthood are probably coming from a particular concern. So, if mom or dad react negatively to the idea of discerning the priesthood, do not feel discouraged, and if mom and dad get overly excited about the idea of discerning the priesthood, do not feel pressured. Simply ask them to be patient and understanding, and maybe even try to set up a meeting between them and the Church Vocations Director to discuss any questions or concerns.

My third tip is to visit a seminary to see what it is like to be a seminarian discerning the priesthood. St. Joseph College Seminary in Covington, LA has a Come and See retreat every year so that young men discerning a priestly vocation can visit and learn about life in the seminary. If possible, try to go to one of these retreats or another retreat that is specifically for young men in high school discerning the priesthood.

My fourth tip is probably the most important. Always keep God at the center of your vocation, and it definitely helps to also keep the Mother of God, Mary, close while discerning. Visiting Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament during adoration every so often, receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation at least once a month, and praying the rosary were all spiritual practices that helped me to discern in an active way while in high school. I would encourage these spiritual practices to anyone discerning a vocation to the priesthood. Becoming an altar server and helping at the Lord’s altar is also a great way to discern the priesthood in high school. My experiences as an altar server in high school kept my desire to be a priest strong.

My final tip is to stay calm. Discernment of any vocation should always be peaceful, especially discernment of the priesthood. Never feel pressured to become a priest and always discern in freedom. Jesus stayed close to me throughout my discernment of the priesthood in high school, and any young man discerning a vocation in high school should know that Jesus will do the same for him.

If you would like more information about the priesthood, contact Father Jerry Daigle, jdaigle@dioshpt.org, or call 318.868.4441.

Reflection: Even as We Age, Be a Source of Joy in the World

by Sr. Martinette Rivers, OLS

“In this world of ours, every believer must be a spark of light, a center of love, a vivifying ferment for the mass…” (St. Pope John XXIII).

In our fast changing world it is often difficult to know how to act. There are too many demands on our spirit and psyche. It becomes overwhelming, yet we can still remain in sync with God. Don’t lose sight of what we want our aging lives to be about. It can be a challenge to sit still without all the memories looming up before our eyes.

God fills our aging hearts with love and joy and we know our future is still brimming with potential. You may feel like you got all A’s in school when you were young, and then aged and flunked life. But that isn’t true! We have become millionaires with a bank full of joy and happiness, to share with the world.

God fills our hearts with love and joy to keep us on His path. All the signs you pass will be older, but those of joy will permit you to be your best self. Live in the present moment. Pope St. John Paul II echoed the challenge of Jesus, “Christ came to bring joy… Go, therefore, and become messengers of joy.” Let’s choose to become joyful agers so we can make a difference in the lives of others.

Jesus lives on in our modern world. The miserable condition of the world we live in is the legacy of our failure to love one another. We all need to trust someone. G.K.Chesterton said, “Joy… is the gigantic secret of the Christian.” I think we were made for joy. It enhances everything we do and improves our health. In this world of ours, there is a lot of suffering. Still, we must not lose sight of what we want our lives to be and what we were meant to be. Aging and joy are our vocations now. This has become our real wealth, not our money.

What does God require of you in 2018? “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8). If we follow this advice, we will all have what is necessary to live a good life as we age. All the negative stuff has to go. Keep your heart and mind open to what is new. This new year gives us the opportunity to shape our future differently by what we do today.

We need to think about who brought us to this day: God, of course. Then we should remember all the people who helped us along the way. What is it that we actually want for the rest of our years? How do we make sure we don’t get in our own way? Do I pray more in my elder years for patience with myself and others? How do I deal with life’s uncertainties? What barriers in my own heart must I overcome? Is your love for others the great definer of your life? Have we become the best version of ourselves?

These questions are for your reflection as you begin the New Year. May 2018 be a year filled with all God’s blessings! Never give up hope. Happy New Year!