About Harvester's Wanted:

A Catholic priest's reflections along the path of Faith.

When this life is complete, I pray they say I lived for the Greater Glory of God +AMDG+

PRAYER REQUESTS through link on right side-bar.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Here I am Lord:


This phrase: from Psalm 40, and the Books of First Samuel and Isaiah, as well as the popular song; for a while was a source of great anxiety for me. We heard these words frequently in grade school at Saint Aloysius and at first I enjoyed picturing myself as Samuel, speaking those words for myself. Later on, between late grade school and high school, these words began to become more real for me although I was not yet ready to truly say those words as my own person. One homily from this time sticks out for me. The priest, in what I felt to be a rather bold manner, said that at least one of us young men in the congregation was being called to the priesthood, and he asked that we be open to that call. This really scared me and I remember wanting to look around and see if anyone else was going to take the burden and be the one Father was referring to. No one jumped up and accepted that call. Nevertheless I remember thinking ‘Here I am Lord’ at the time. While it scared me, a vocation to the priesthood and the words ‘Here I am Lord’ were linked from that time on.  

    
Eventually, I worked up the courage and maturity to begin to really look at what that call means, and I have often reflected back on this event in my life. I have also come to further understand the link between a personalized invitation and communal acceptance. The priest, in a way, personally invited us all to an understanding of our vocations, and in return I eventually brought that understanding to the Church for testing and strengthening. While I was not ready when I first made this connect, I got there in time just like Samuel did. This connection between my love for this phrase now and the love that I had for it when I was very young comforts me with the knowledge that God has been with me, and will continue to be with me, for the entirety of this journey.



  1. Photo One: Monroe Lake, Hoosier National Forest 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

What you can expect from me:


My Personal Mission Statement


I strive to see God in all things, and to do all things for God’s greater glory. I drink deeply of the water of faith, and seek an understanding of that faith, while keeping in mind that Christ’s presence in the Eucharist is the source and summit of that very faith. I seek to maintain hope in the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God, especially when these mortal eyes can see no reason for hope. I seek to love, in the truest and most pure way, all of those that Christ has set before me, especially those that are poor and lowly. For this purpose I take up the arms and armor of light in the forms of:

Justice – I listen to everyone as best I can, respecting their views and opinions, and realizing that we are all created in the image of God and we all have much to offer and to teach. Yet I am unafraid to challenge error, and speak the truth, as long as I do so with kindness and gentleness.

Temperance – I remain committed to presenting to God, and the world, an authentic and disciplined self-gift. I present this gift most effectively through my celibate chastity and approachability as a gentleman. In realization that I am a beloved child of God - called by name, I strive to maintain that realization in my interaction with others whom are all similarly called by name.

Fortitude – I maintain strength by honoring my own dignity and the dignity of others. I place a high value in loyalty and hard work, and through these stoke the flames of the Holy Spirit, on fire in my heart and in my life. I also make use of these desires for the service of the bride of Christ, the Church, and pledge to defend her always.

Prudence – I am committed to the ideals of sacrificial leadership, for I will not command others to go where I dare not. As a leader I maintain a spirit of humility, gratitude, prayer, and hospitality especially in my growing understanding of acting as priest, prophet, and king.  


For the end of continual conversion towards my final end - eternal happiness with God, I conform ever more to the image of Christ, and maintain a bridge to Christ for others. I do all in the name of Jesus Christ my lord, in union with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.




  1. First Photo: Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, undercroft
  2. Second Photo: Saint Meinrad Seminary; Arete, Greek for excellence, used here in the sense of what is desired... not what yet is. "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect" Matthew 5:48  

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Called to Meet and to Move:

A Personal Theology of Preaching    

In our pastoral counseling courses Dr. LaMothe has a saying that he has often used with me when going over my practice counseling videos. This saying is that you have to first meet the client/parishioner where they are, vocalize where they are at, and then help them to move to where they want to go. Meet and move, easy enough, right? Well I have ‘failed’ to complete that simple task on numerous occasions, and I am pretty sure that many who enter into a counseling relationship fail at that task at one point or another. Why is it so difficult? Generally I believe that when I have trouble with this it is either because: (1) I am in a hurry to get out of (away from) sitting with them where they are, or (2) I already think I have, in my mind, correctly figured out where they are, and I think that clarifying that current state will be repetitive, unnecessary, and generally a waste of valuable time.   
 
How more similar to preaching can one get? There is a need for recognition of where people are at, where they want to go, and anxiety with sitting with the people in their current situation. There is also a concern with timing; counseling sessions can not go on forever, and homilies as well can certainly feel like they are going on forever. Nevertheless if people are not first meet where they are, and given a chance to confirm that that is truly where they are, then they will generally be unwilling to be moved to a new, more solid, place, even if that new place truly is better and more in line with God’s plan. One can see this dynamic in commercials. First there is a recognition of where the consumer currently is (if not often presented hyperbolically), and then an opportunity to change to a way that is more fulfilling than they have experienced in the past. This opportunity is reveled, but it is left to the consumer to decide whether or not to take that opportunity and move, typically by parting with a bit of their income; sacrifice, however, must be made when moving to a better place.

Meet…


This being a personal theology of preaching, I personally see myself being more effective in more intimate, one on one and small group setting, than I will be in large group setting, especially when it comes to speaking to the enter congregation at once. Not that it would be good idea to begin my homiletic studies with a resignation that I will be a bad preacher! Instead I have been looking for ways to incorporate the ideals of counseling and spiritual direction into the way I think of being a preacher. When authors and bishops write about what a good homily comes down to, many reflect on how it is a sign of achievement when individuals feel like you as the preacher were speaking directly to them, almost as if you two were sitting down one to one. In this way I hope to be an effective preacher by being able to speak to people as if I were speaking just to them. Now this will not always happen, and it especially will not happen for every member of the congregation every time, but in general if people have that sense then I will be reassured that I am doing what I am called to do. Theologically speaking the answer to the question ‘why preach’ would be so that the people of God can enter into a moment when Christ is speaking to them directly through me, as if Christ was speaking to them one on one, as a friend.

Christ, when meeting with people either individually or in groups, was often very direct with them. He would name the place where he saw them. This is evident is the Samaritan women’s confession that “He told me everything I ever did,” in this it is possible to see that Jesus is not afraid to meet people where they are at. Jesus did not just throw out a ‘you are living in a state of sin’ however, instead he acknowledged where they are and then stayed with them there in that. Jesus was often more understanding than accusative, and his witness is an example that people need both honesty and compassion when dealing with most parts of their daily lives. Just like in a counseling session, however, I can get distracted by thinking the current state of things is equally clear to both me and the person sitting across from me. Instead of displaying a bit of vulnerability by actively naming the other’s condition, it can be easy to quickly move to moving forward. Truly meeting people where they are is an art that needs cultivation and a major factor in one’s ability to do that is the issue of speaking across generations and to both genders. Being able to speak to the condition of a 50 year old divorced man with two children of his own, and a 14 year old girl sitting in the next pew, will be difficult, but nor impossible, when the ideal of being Christ for all of the congregation is kept in mind.  

…and Move


People are often not interested in having their condition revealed to them and then having it left there. This would be as helpful as trying to move someone without first spending time meeting them, and acknowledging where they are at. Basically I see this being done by pointing to Christ. That is pointing to Christ in the church, in the Eucharist, the other Sacraments, in helping the poor both among them and in the wider world, as well as seeing Christ in each other. In some ways I see a priest’s role in the community as that of standing and pointing to Christ; when the priest lives that in everything he does, he is fulfilling his mission. Pointing to Christ suggests movement is required, and that what is lacking in one’s current situation can be had in Christ. Back to the Samaritan women at the well; she wanted the living water after Christ revealed to her that this was what she was lacking. In a sense Christ was pointing to himself and saying ‘you lack me.’ People in today’s society are not very interested in hearing that they are lacking, but after being with them in their current situation they may be more willing to see that they are indeed somewhat lacking Christ.

In this personal theology of preaching I believe that it is part of the priest’s role to model himself for the community. Not in a way that says ‘I have the answer, and you need to do as I do’ but instead in a way that says ‘I too am in need of Christ, let us go to him together.’ In this way the question ‘when to preach’ is answered in the form of a quote from St. Francis: “Preach the Gospel always, if necessary use words.” These words point to the need to not only preach at Mass, but to also preach at meetings, in the parking lot, at the store. Preaching everywhere and always so that people can catch a glimpse of Christ no matter what you are doing. This is a hard task to fulfill but it is necessary to try so that the people too will realize a desire to move towards Christ.

Meeting the people where they are, lacking Christ is some way, and moving them to desire to want Christ in that way is a theology for priesthood in general, but especially for preaching. This theology, if lived out, engages the people in their own lives and encourages them to fan the flames of their desire for Christ. It encourages the priest to speak to the people in a way that they can understand and incorporates the entirety of the Christian life. In this way the homily is given a role not just in the Mass but in the lives of the people and the priest.




  1. First Photo: Saint Meinrad Seminary, light box made from reused windowpanes from the Saint Thomas Aquinas Chapel, depicting two priests shaking hands  
  2. Second Photo: From the Sunday Raven 10/17/2010, Saint Meinrad Seminary, Saint Thomas Aquinas Chapel 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Why?

Why? I remember tracing the letters of that seemingly innocent question over and over again. I would mostly do this in class, in the midst of my high school and college years; I would write those letters, sometimes with my finger and sometimes with an un-clicked pen. Sometimes I would do this slowly and carefully, sometimes rapidly and repetitively, and while it may have been a sign of teenage angst I can not help but wonder ‘was there more to it than that?’'

It hit me while sitting in class one day at seminary, long since that angst should have disappeared, that I had just traced those letters again. I wondered about the sense I always had that the letters flowed delightfully as I made them, almost like the letters were meant to be together. These thoughts came to me during a philosophy class of all places and looking back I attribute this spontaneous renewal of doodling to an increase feeling of comfort in truly asking the question again.

Human beings by their nature are curious creatures, we ask why all the time. Often times however our culture reduces that curiosity to ‘why is this relevant to me?’ A kind of relativistic and cynical belittling of our innate curiosity that can make one feel free to only ask why when the answer is preprogrammed to fit our unique experience: why study this subject, why be nice to this person, why not expect something just for you? All of these self-focused questions can detract from the larger questions that we often feel powerless to answer: what is the meaning of it all, why are we here, where is the Truth in this? These questions by their nature take the asker out of themselves and into the realm of unburdened curiosity, a curiosity with an object of desire free of the restraints that our particular condition places on it. 

So why ask why? To truly ask why of course!