Category Archives: Vocations

Saint John Vianney

St John VianneyToday we recall as a memorial the feast day of Saint John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests. We typically pray for our priests in a particular way today. But our prayer for priests raises questions about the nature of priesthood and what we hope for in our priests and their service to the Church.

What is it about the ministry of the secular priest that we need, desire, revere? What is the Catholic priesthood all about? Why do we need the priesthood? What does the Catholic priest do and whom does he follow? Saint Pope John Paul II instructed us in “Pastores dabo vobis” that:

The ministry of the priest is, certainly, to proclaim the word, to celebrate the sacraments, to guide the Christian community in charity “in the name and in the person of Christ,” but all this he does dealing always and only with individual human beings…. In order that his ministry may be humanly as credible and acceptable as possible, it is important that the priest should mold his human personality in such a way that it becomes a bridge and not an obstacle for others in their meeting with Jesus Christ the Redeemer of humanity. It is necessary that, following the example of Jesus who “knew what was in humanity” (Jn. 2:25; cf. 8:3-11), the priest should be able to know the depths of the human heart, to perceive difficulties and problems, to make meeting and dialogue easy, to create trust and cooperation, to express serene and objective judgments” (PDV, 45).

And, in priests need…

“… to be balanced people, strong and free, capable of bearing the weight of pastoral responsibilities. They need to be educated to love the truth, to be loyal, to respect every person, to have a sense of justice, to be true to their word, to be genuinely compassionate, to be men of integrity and, especially, to be balanced in judgment and behavior…. Of special importance is the capacity to relate to others. This is truly fundamental for a person who is called to be responsible for a community and to be a “man of communion.” This demands that the priest not be arrogant, or quarrelsome, but affable, hospitable, sincere in his words and heart, prudent and discreet, generous and ready to serve, capable of opening himself to clear and brotherly relationships and of encouraging the same in others, and quick to understand, forgive and console” (PDV, 45).

Year of Consecrated Life: Plenary Indulgences

During the Year of the Consecrated Life


by which are established the works to be accomplished in order to obtain the gift of Indulgences on the occasion of the Year of the Consecrated Life
The Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life having requested to this Apostolic Penitentiary to have duly determined the conditions to obtain the gift of Indulgences that the Holy Father Francis, on the occasion of the imminent Year of the Consecrated Life, intends to widen for the renewal of religious institutes, always with the utmost fidelity to the charism of the Founder, and in order to offer to the faithful of the whole world a joyful occasion to confirm Faith, Hope, and Charity in communion with the Holy Roman Church, under the most special mandate of the Roman Pontiff, this Apostolic Penitentiary willingly grants Plenary Indulgence, under the usual conditions (Sacramental confession, eucharistic communion, and prayer for the intentions of the Holy Father), to all the single members of the institutes of consecrated life, and to the other faithful truly contrite and moved by the spirit of charity, to be obtained from the First Sunday in Advent of the current year [November 30, 2014] up to February 2, 2016, the day on which the Year of the Consecrated Life will be solemnly concluded, that can be also applied as suffrage for the souls in Purgatory:
a) In Rome, at each time that they take part at International Meetings and celebrations determined in the calendar established by the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and for a reasonable amount of time dedicate themselves to pious thoughts, concluding with the Our Father, the Profession of Faith in any legitimately approved form, and pious invocations to the Virgin Mary;
b) In all Particular Churches [other Dioceses], at each time in which, on the diocesan days dedicated to consecrated life and in the diocesan celebrations set for the Year of the Consecrated Life, they pious visit the Cathedral or another sacred place designated with the agreement of the local Ordinary, or a conventual church, or an oratory of a Cloistered Monastery, and there recite publicly the Liturgy of the Hours of, for a reasonable amount of time, dedicate themselves to pious thoughts, concluding with the Our Father, the Profession of Faith in any legitimately approved form, and pious invocations to the Virgin Mary;
The Members of the Institutes of Consecrated Life who, due to illness of other grave cause, are prevented from visiting those holy places can equally obtain the plenary Indulgence if, with complete detachment from any sin and with the intention of accomplishing as soon as possible the three usual conditions, accomplish a spiritual visit with deep desire and offer the infirmities and pains of their own life to the Merciful God through Mary, with the addition of prayers as indicated above.
The present Decree is valid for the Year of the Consecrated Life. Notwithstanding whichever contrary norms.
Promulgated in Rome, at the Apostolic Penitentiary, on November 23, 2014, solemnity of Christ the King.
Mauro Card. Piacenza 
Major Penitentiary
Krzysztof Nykiel 

Religious life is prophetic

“In the church, the [consecrated] religious are called to be prophets in particular by demonstrating how Jesus lived on this earth, and to proclaim how the kingdom of God will be in its perfection. A religious must never give up prophecy … Let us think about what so many great saints, monks, and religious men and women have done, from St. Anthony the Abbot onward. Being prophets may sometimes imply making waves.” —Pope FrancisLa Civilta Cattolica interview, September 2013.

“When there is no prophecy among the people, clericalism fills the void.”

Pope Francis, daily Mass homily, December 16, 2013.

The Year of Consecrated Life

logoThe Year of Consecrated Life begins with the First Sunday of Advent 2014 and concludes with the World Day of Consecrated Life, 2 February 2016. The USCCB staged a media conference announcing the year’s activities in the United States. The bishops’ plans  include “Days with Religious,” a series of initiatives and resources to help people learn about the consecrated life of religious men and women. Activities will focus on sharing experiences of prayer, service, and community life with those living a consecrated life.

The Vatican congregation for consecrated life issued a calendar of events in Rome and the logo above. The National Religous Vocation Conference created a YCL logo and a Parish Packet, and commissioned a new hymn from Steven C. Warner. “Wake Up the World,” based on the words of Pope Francis, is available in the full scoremelody, and multilingual versions. All can be found on the NRVC website.

The Good Priest

vB on priesthoodIn the region of the country in which I live there are some very good priests: attentive to matters of faith and reason, attentive to their spiritual life, eager for apostolic work, work on being truly human and serious about the offering sacrifice as a priest of Jesus Christ. The men I am thinking of are not clowns. They prepare for the sacred Liturgy, want to do good by the Church and the Lord, they see their spiritual director monthly,  and spend time in daily prayer. These priests also read books, visit musea, and like people. Theirs is a real life of prayer, work and study.

On the other hand, I have known lots of priests who seek preferment in civil and ecclesial circles under the guise of “obedience”, develop a personality cult, I know who one is a frequent visitor to sex shops, others are alcoholic, addicted to power, I know one is in prison for drug related charges, others are lazy, economical with the truth, ignorant and ill mannered, superficial and these are their good qualities. Just recently a priest proudly stated that he was leaving his venerable religious order and the exercise of Catholic priesthood and joining the Episcopal Communion. Another priest I know who falls in this category of “bad priest” was recently given a new job of considerable authority and influence in his diocese and who has little integrity, or care for others. This same priest has had charge of men preparing for sacred priesthood, too.

For the record, there is no time when the words “I’m the priest, and this is my parish” are to be uttered and heard. Otherwise, the one who thinks in such way betrays his baptismal and priestly ordination.

The sinful aspects of what I described above are the result of the thoughts, will and affections being disordered by someone other than the Most Trinity — that is, Satan. We too often allow the circumstances of life control the beauty of personhood slowly moving us away from our true self as we are made in God’s image. And in moving away from our true center we move away from God who gave us those beautiful desires to know, love and to serve in this world –that is, to have the hundredfold promised Jesus– to serve under another banner not divine or holy. Hence, the metaphor of the “bad priest.”

So, when you read this phrase, “A good priest is a miracle of grace” it ought to be a striking idea upon which to reflect. Thanks be to God of Balthasar!

Loyola taught us that the three devices of Satan are money, power and fame. He also notes the sin of ingratitude –a big sin for Saint Ignatius.

Those who reflect on this issues with depth and sincerity will notice the ways in which the devil corrupts those who have consecrated their lives to God for the service of the Church. Think of CS Lewis’ book, Screwtape Letters. Recall the agenda of the tempter: the priesthood and sacramentality are messed around with by Satan. Many fall prey, others don’t. And that is why I’m so grateful for priestly vocations lived well.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]
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