You are not alone or strange for considering a vocation!

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In 2001, I made the decision to enter seminary application for the Erie Diocese. God had called me with a divine “tap on the shoulder”, and I knew that I had to answer. I wanted to answer, too – I was willing. In the Spring of that year, I was at a large gathering of people for the “Divine Mercy TEC” retreat in Erie. Many of these people were my friends and acquaintances. I felt at home in their midst. But then, something funny started to happen. People started coming up to me, saying, “we’re glad that you are going to the seminary!” Uh oh, I thought; the word was out! I wasn’t ready for the word to be out. I wasn’t even accepted to go to the seminary yet. What if they turned me down? It was the first experience of being identified in church circles as “different”.

The call is a very definite thing. Everyone is called by God to do something. A small percentage of us are called to be celibates, priests, deacons, bishops, or consecrated religious. For those of us so called, and for those of us whom God is currently calling, it can be an isolating experience. We can feel alone, and none of us wants to feel alone. If we feel this way as priests, we are not exactly an attractive billboard for vocations. If we feel this way as seminarians, we might be tempted to leave the program. If we feel this way as aspiring discerners, we might turn in a different direction.

Should we make decisions based on fear? That is never good to do, especially in the most important question of vocations. We do need to fight through that fear of lonely isolation, but the greater fear for a discerning man may be the fear of being different from the rest. The discerner is different from the rest, in that he or she is focused on questions that are not relevant to others. Many people choose their life’s vocation simply by following their desires. Whatever will fulfill their desire is what will be chosen. Most do not desire the celibate/religious life in our secular culture. The discerner is therefore very different than the rest, as if he/she is living on a different planet.

The discernment process may even be seen as threatening by others. The discerning person may be “ruining” the hopes and plans of their family, who did not plan for a son or daughter to enter seminary or a religious order. While this may seem selfish to a young person, it is a real heartache for a parent who may have only one son or one daughter. In giving away their child to a vocation, it seems as if they are giving away their family’s future generations. The lifestyle of celibate chastity is viewed as a threat to many who live the “free love” lifestyle. Having someone around who is living by religious rules and expectations might prick their consciences too much for their liking. This may breed hostility towards the discerner. Certainly, in many places of the world where religious persecution is severe, discerning a vocation is like putting a mark on one’s head.

There are many reasons why a man or woman would be utterly scared to stand out from the crowd and respond to God’s calling. We must make it easier for them to respond by supporting them. They cannot do this alone. Nor are they alone. All throughout the Diocese, people are praying the Bishop’s prayer for Vocations. People have been praying for vocations for years. There are many priests who are eager to support a young man or woman in discerning a vocation. The Vocations Office of the Erie Diocese is exploring ways to bring discerners together for fellowship, prayer, and support. There is strength in numbers! As our numbers of priests and seminarians have dwindled significantly in recent years, we are susceptible to being isolated, discouraged, and drawn away from God’s real plan for us. How can we identify the people who are discerning a vocation, and let them know that it is ok to be different? It is ok for them to discern God’s calling in a world that is apathetic or hostile. How do we let them know that there are others out there whom God is calling, just like them?

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When our hope needs to be traded for a greater hope.

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In the Summer of 2013, I was blessed to be able to go to a wonderful Christian music concert in my little town of Emlenton. Aaron Shust came to the campground run by one of the evangelical churches up the road. One of his songs is entitled, Give me Words to Speak. (I don’t have permission to link, but find it on ITunes or Youtube) Here are some of the lyrics of the song:

Calloused and bruised/ dazed and confused
My Spirit is left wanting something more
Than my selfish hopes/ and my selfish dreams
I’m lying with my face down to the floor
I’m crying out for more
Give me Words to speak
Don’t let my Spirit sleep
Cause I can’t think of anything worth saying
But I know that I owe You my life
So give me Words to speak
Don’t let my Spirit sleep

My Spirit is left wanting something more than my selfish hopes and selfish dreams. Now, we might be tempted to think that “selfish hopes” and “selfish dreams” are only for the “unchurched”. Are they? I have encountered within myself, and within plenty of church folks, hopes and dreams unrelated to God’s hopes and dreams. In other words, we sometimes take our own desires and assume that God will bless them, and we run with them. We never ask God what He might want. Maybe God wants something different than what we want? When we run our own race, and things don’t work out, we may even blame God. Then, we start up the same thought process again, and we arrive at the same dead end again. Repeat process. Endless frustration. Face down on the floor.

I can look all around me and see this frustration, this exasperation, this anger. How could God allow all of this to happen? How does God allow the Holocaust to happen to His original chosen people? How does God allow abortion, genocide, and war? Why do bad people sometimes prosper, and good people suffer? Why are there so many who die of hunger, thirst, or disease all over the world? Why does He allow addictions- alcohol, drugs, pornography? Why does God allow children to be abused? Why? Further, I see the struggles of my parishioners – some seem to be holding on by a thread. The clergy is very much burdened by much “vineyard work” and not enough laborers to do the work. Vocations seem to be lacking – Mass attendance declining- schools closing. What to do? God ends any hopes in us that are evil. But what can be make of a God that denies the good hopes of our hearts, even the purest of our hopes? What can we make of a God who allows very evil things, while denying good things?

We remember St. Peter. Peter had high hopes for his master, Jesus. When Jesus told Peter that He was going to Jerusalem to be crucified, Peter replied, “God forbid, Lord.” What if Peter would have had his way? There would be no Cross and no salvation from sin. Thank God that Peter didn’t have his way. Peter underwent the purification of hope- a rather painful purification. In fact, in his hopelessness, Peter denied Jesus 3 times. He also ran from Jesus in His time of greatest need. But Peter was forgiven in his encounter with the Risen Jesus. Peter was transformed so completely that he would go to his own Cross to be crucified!

It must be the same with us! We may be the best of people, but we are not God. Only God can show us what is truly good! Only God can show us our vocation. Only God can lead us to true peace. We must ask before we act – we must pray before we move. But that road takes us through suffering, pain, and death. We often do not want to walk this road, for it is a hard one. Heaven is at the end of the road, but that road takes us through some tough neighborhoods along the way. But only by walking this road, can we realize our hope! What do we call expectation of a good result in the midst of a bad situation? We call that hope.

Indeed, purify my hopes, Lord. Prune me that I may be strong enough to bear the fruit that I should. Help me to view the future not through my own manipulation and planning, but through trust in your will, and my stewardship of your gifts as you reveal them to me daily.

We are not unlike the widow at Zarephath! The offering of love today gives us hope for a jug that will never run dry…….

Prayer for Vocations

Lord God, creator of all things and source of all gifts and talents, your Son came to this world to fulfill His vocation as the Redeemer of all humanity.
Grant the sons and daughters of the parishes of the Diocese of Erie a profound awareness of their own vocations. Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, may they come to realize their distinct place in your divine plan.
Give them the grace to recognize and the courage to pursue vocations as devoted priests, deacons and consecrated women and men to assist the Diocese of Erie in fulfilling her mission.
With the intercession of Saint Patrick, our patron, who preached the Gospel in word and deed, we pray that they may find happiness and fulfillment in a life of service to others.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen
.

Imprimatur, July 29, 2013
The Most Reverend Lawrence T. Persico, JCL
Bishop of Erie

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Eucharistic Holy Hour for Vocations – pray for seminarians!

As I mentioned on this blog a few weeks’ ago, there are opportunities throughout the Diocese of Erie to attend a Holy Hour for Vocations. This is a key part of our hope for attracting new men to the seminary for the Erie Diocese. You are encouraged to attend any of the Holy Hours being offered. Here again is a listing of the events:

  • Nov. 3 at 7 p.m.—St. Mark Seminary, 429 E. Grandview Blvd., Erie (Bishop Lawrence Persico will participate in this evening. The communities of Mercyhurst Preparatory School, Cathedral Preparatory School and Villa Maria Academy are encouraged to participate in this event.)
  • Nov. 3 at 7 p.m.—Venango Catholic High School, 1505 West First St., Oil City
  • Nov. 3 at 6:30 p.m.—DuBois Central Catholic High School, 200 Central Christian Road, DuBois
  • Nov. 4 at 7 p.m.—St. Michael Church, 811 Chestnut St., Emlenton
  • Nov. 5 during school hours only—Elk County Catholic High School, 600 Maurus St., St. Marys
  • Nov. 10 at 7 P.M. Kennedy Catholic High School, 2120 Shenango Valley Freeway, Hermitage

It is not as if our prayers can win God’s favor, or force God’s hand. God in His Providence knows what we need before we know it (Matthew 6:8). What is prayer, then? Why do it? We pray so that, as St. Augustine once said, our desire for God’s will might grow. Are our desires in union with what God desires? Do we ask that question? Do we even care? Are we too wrapped up in our own daily agendas to care? Prayer stops the dynamic of selfishness, and places the proper focus on the Lord, leading to true blessings.

Prayer focuses us on higher things. Our daily work routines and our family responsibilities. We might feel that we want to spend every moment with our families, or spend all of our time building a successful business endeavor. Sometimes, even very often, we truly don’t have time for extended prayer. Still, time spent in prayer reminds us of the existence of a higher plane of being – the spiritual force of the Holy Spirit, which guides all life along its course. The very decision to pray is a recognition that our work and enjoyment is not the “be all and end all” of life. The decision not to pray, then, is a decision that our work and play really are the sum of our self-directed life. Such an environment is not a fertile soil for a seminarian to sprout up. After all, if we do not value prayer, why would we want someone to give up their lives so that we can offer that most holy prayer, the Sacred Liturgy? Why would we even care to have a priest whose service is not valued or wanted?

We need to deserve our seminarians. We need to act in such a way as to deserve the gift of their young lives in service to God and Church. Praying for them is a great start. As we pray for vocations, we say to God that we desire shepherds after his own heart. We want someone to give us the keys to the Kingdom of God, the Sacraments. We need access to saving grace. We need Jesus Christ to be a real part of our everyday life. We need to be members of a visible body of faith, of a church. We need more than individualistic, spiritual righteousness. We need real, visible holiness!

We need men to answer the call to ordained ministry, to bring us these most precious gifts of Christ. May we rely on the Lord’s strength to draw the hearts of men to the seminary, and may our hearts be prepared to support them.

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It takes a family to ordain a priest

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It takes a family to ordain a priest.

Of course, a family doesn’t literally ordain a priest. The Bishop does that. But if it wasn’t for mom and dad, there would be no son for the Bishop to ordain. If there is no family, then there is no ordination. In the study of theology, we often talk about what is “essential” for a sacrament. We could add to the list of essentials for the sacrament of Holy Orders the “family”. It takes a family to ordain a priest. What a blessing a priestly or religious vocation is for a family!

Having gone to numerous priesthood and diaconate ordinations, I have noticed the reactions of many priest family members. I have noticed that the parents of the ordained shed tears, gaze at their sons, smile, and reflect quietly on the liturgy. I have always wondered what their thoughts and feelings were on ordination night. They have an understanding of their son that only a mother and father could. They know the journey. They know the story. They were there from the start of this man’s life. I can’t even begin to imagine what such an experience would mean. I think it would be an awesome thing!

Not only is being a priest’s parent an excellent blessing on ordination night, but also for the rest of the life of that family. Priest moms and dads really belong to the whole Church. I love to meet parents of a priest or a sister. They are usually very impressive, faithful, and wonderful people. Whenever I meet the parents of a brother priest, I feel like I belong to them in some way, too. I feel as if I am part of their family, too. It always warms my heart to see parishioners treat my mom and dad with warmness and hospitality.

These moms and dads are the real Vocation Directors. They are, in a very real way, the first pastors of their children, too. Moms and dads, being the parent of a priest is an awesome thing! Don’t be afraid of it! You will gain so much more than you imagine. Obviously, your family would share in the sacrifices of your son. But you will also share in the joys of priesthood as well, of which there are many. Don’t be afraid to encourage your sons to be holy men. Pray for their vocation. Encourage them to have an open mind. Keep knocking on their door until they get the message about faith. Persevere.

If 2014 finds you watching a little boy crawling around on the ground or playing with Star Wars Lightsabers in the backyard, then Vocations is a relevant topic for you. Think about how you will raise your sons. Think about how you will raise your daughters. Ask yourself, “will I prepare this child to simply be successful in life, or will I prepare this child to be God’s child for eternal life?”. Your answer to that question will determine not only the future of vocations in the Church, but the future of the Church itself. Do not be afraid to point your sons in the direction of the altar, both today, and tomorrow.

-this article is a re-posting of an article that ran in Faithlife and my blog post back in 2011.

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Erie Diocese Eucharistic Holy Hours for Vocations

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The Diocese of Erie Vocations Office is sponsoring a number of Holy Hours for Vocations at the beginning of November. We encourage your participation, and if you cannot participate in person, please join us in prayer during these hours. The Holy Hours are listed here:

Nov. 3 at 7 p.m.—St. Mark Seminary, 429 E. Grandview Blvd., Erie (Bishop Lawrence Persico will participate in this evening. The communities of Mercyhurst Preparatory School, Cathedral Preparatory School and Villa Maria Academy are encouraged to participate in this event.)
Nov. 3 at 7 p.m.—Kennedy Catholic High School, 2120 Shenango Valley Freeway, Hermitage
Nov. 3 at 7 p.m.—Venango Catholic High School, 1505 West First St., Oil City
Nov. 3 at 6:30 p.m.—DuBois Central Catholic High School, 200 Central Christian Road, DuBois
Nov. 4 at 7 p.m.—St. Michael Church, 811 Chestnut St., Emlenton
Nov. 5 during school hours only—Elk County Catholic High School, 600 Maurus St., St. Marys

One of St. Benedict’s many famous sayings was “ora et labora”. This translates as “pray and work”. This is what we need to do for vocations – pray and work. There is no greater form of prayer than prayer involving the Eucharist.

The Eucharist teaches us lessons essential for our growing towards a vocation. I was privileged this week to host the first 40 Hours Devotion that my parish has held in anyone’s memory. For those of you who are unfamiliar with 40 Hours, it is essentially a prolonged time of Adoration over the course of 3 days. In the evening of each day, a solemn prayer service is held (often Evening Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours), and guest preachers are invited to speak. It is a powerful time of renewal in our love for Jesus Christ. It is an opportunity for a powerful renewal in our belief in the True Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

Each night of the 40 Hours’ devotion, our preachers inspired us to a deeper faith. Fr. Justin Pino, our speaker for Sunday, challenged us to really treat the Eucharist as Jesus’ real Presence, and not as a symbol. He shared beautiful stories from his youth about how much the Sacrament meant to him. Our Tuesday speaker, Fr. Daniel Hoffman, shared a quote from a homily of the Cure of Ars, St. John Vianney. During the homily, St. John simply gestured at the Tabernacle with tears in his eyes, saying “he is there, he is there, he is there.” He also quoted a parishioner of St. John Vianney’s parish, who described Eucharistic Adoration by saying, “I look at Him, and He looks at me.” Fr. David Poulson gave a talk on Monday about Mary at Fatima. He referenced a vision by the three child visionaries of an angel, who held a host and a chalice in front of them. The Angel told the little visionaries Jacinta, Marta, and Francesco that we are called to do three things each time we go to Adoration. We are to:

1. Adore Jesus in His True Presence
2. Make an offering to him of our life and our prayers.
3. Make reparation for our sins and others’ sins.

These three attitudes are important for us to enter into the spirit of Eucharistic Adoration. Also, they prepare us for a vocation to the priesthood. For what is the priesthood but Adoration of the Lord? Priesthood is also an offering of our very lives, united with the Church’s sacrifice of the altar. Priesthood is reparation. Priests literally repair the sins of people through extending Jesus’ promise of forgiveness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. If we can cultivate these three attitudes each time we adore Jesus in the Eucharist, and each time we receive Him at Mass, it can prepare us for a priestly vocation.

Each of us are called as Christians to be priests. Relatively few of us are called to the ministry of sacramental priesthood. But all of the baptized are called to be people of sacrifice. We are a people who do not merely accept the grace of God for our forgiveness, but a people who cooperates with the grace of God. We draw near to Jesus in the Eucharist so that we may really be one with Him, and with each other.

The obstacles to having seminarians and priests seem to be insurmountable. Indeed, much hard work needs to be done. That effort begins on our knees. Jesus will give us shepherds after his own heart, if we are open to His way! Please come and join us in any of these locations to pray for vocations to the Diocese of Erie. I end with the Bishop’s Prayer for Vocations, which I encourage everyone to pray daily:

Prayer for Vocations

Lord God, creator of all things and source of all gifts and talents, your Son came to this world to fulfill His vocation as the Redeemer of all humanity.
Grant the sons and daughters of the parishes of the Diocese of Erie a profound awareness of their own vocations. Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, may they come to realize their distinct place in your divine plan.
Give them the grace to recognize and the courage to pursue vocations as devoted priests, deacons and consecrated women and men to assist the Diocese of Erie in fulfilling her mission.
With the intercession of Saint Patrick, our patron, who preached the Gospel in word and deed, we pray that they may find happiness and fulfillment in a life of service to others.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen
.

Imprimatur, July 29, 2013
The Most Reverend Lawrence T. Persico, JCL
Bishop of Erie

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Prayers for the Synod on the Family

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Currently, a body of cardinals and theological advisors are meeting with Pope Francis in what is called the “Synod on the Family”. What is a Synod? The New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia Online defines a Synod as:

A general term for ecclesiastical gatherings under hierarchical authority, for the discussion and decision of matters relating to faith, morals, or discipline.

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14388a.htm

We see that the hierarchical authority who called the Synod is the Pope, and that the discussion topic is on family issues. The Pope has called for this Synod to be a frank discussion with his brother bishops on issues important to family life. The hope of the Synod proceeding is to help assist the Church in ministering to families more effectively. The Pope is committed to an atmosphere of open discussion and shared decision-making amongst the bishops present. The Synod is a process of discussion, and maybe debate. It will be hard to say what its outcomes will be until it is over.

Such a proceeding is often misunderstood. Most people will not follow the proceedings of the Synod closely, and rely on media reports. You may wish to read the Synod documents yourself, or find a reliable news source that reports more fact than opinion. This Synod is an opportunity for our Pope and Bishops to renew family life throughout the world, or at least contribute positively to its growth. Family is extremely important. It is the foundation of any society. As goes the family, so goes the community. As goes the family, so goes vocations. As goes the family, so goes our parishes and our schools. It is no secret that the Biblical view of marriage and family has been seriously undermined in recent generations. It is also true that the lived family experience of many people keeps them away from church involvement. Bringing revealed truth and cultural trends together will be a great challenge for the Church. Please pray that the Synod will contribute positively to this effort.

I am posting a prayer for the Synod, as well as the opening homily for the Synod by Pope Francis for your consideration. God bless you!

Prayer for the Synod from the Pope’s Angelus Address of December 29, 2013:

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
in you we contemplate
the splendor of true love,
to you we turn with trust.
Holy Family of Nazareth,
grant that our families too
may be places of communion and prayer,
authentic schools of the Gospel
and small domestic Churches.
Holy Family of Nazareth,
may families never again
experience violence, rejection and division:
may all who have been hurt or scandalized
find ready comfort and healing.
Holy Family of Nazareth,
may the approaching Synod of Bishops
make us once more mindful
of the sacredness and inviolability of the family,
and its beauty in God’s plan.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
graciously hear our prayer

The Pope’s Homily from Zenit.org:

Today the prophet Isaiah and the Gospel employ the image of the Lord’s vineyard. The Lord’s vineyard is his “dream”, the plan which he nurtures with all his love, like a farmer who cares for his vineyard. Vines are plants which need much care!

God’s “dream” is his people. He planted it and nurtured it with patient and faithful love, so that it can become a holy people, a people which brings forth abundant fruits of justice.

But in both the ancient prophecy and in Jesus’ parable, God’s dream is thwarted. Isaiah says that the vine which he so loved and nurtured has yielded “wild grapes” (5:2,4); God “expected justice but saw bloodshed, righteousness, but only a cry of distress” (v. 7). In the Gospel, it is the farmers themselves who ruin the Lord’s plan: they fail to do their job but think only of their own interests.

In Jesus’ parable, he is addressing the chief priests and the elders of the people, in other words the “experts”, the managers. To them in a particular way God entrusted his “dream”, his people, for them to nurture, tend and protect from the animals of the field. This is the job of leaders: to nuture the vineyard with freedom, creativity and hard work.

But Jesus tells us that those farmers took over the vineyard. Out of greed and pride they want to do with it as they will, and so they prevent God from realizing his dream for the people he has chosen.

The temptation to greed is ever present. We encounter it also in the great prophecy of Ezekiel on the shepherds (cf. ch. 34), which Saint Augustine commented upon in one his celebrated sermons which we have just reread in the Liturgy of the Hours. Greed for money and power. And to satisfy this greed, evil pastors lay intolerable burdens on the shoulders of others, which they themselves do not lift a finger to move (cf. Mt 23:4)

We too, in the Synod of Bishops, are called to work for the Lord’s vineyard. Synod Assemblies are not meant to discuss beautiful and clever ideas, or to see who is more intelligent… They are meant to better nurture and tend the Lord’s vineyard, to help realize his dream, his loving plan for his people. In this case the Lord is asking us to care for the family, which has been from the beginning an integral part of his loving plan for humanity.

We too can be tempted to “take over” the vineyard, because of that greed which is always present in us human beings. God’s dream always clashes with the hypocrisy of some of his servants. We can “thwart” God’s dream if we fail to let ourselves be guided by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit gives us that wisdom which surpasses knowledge, and enables us to work generously with authentic freedom and humble creativity.

My brothers, to do a good job of nurturing and tending the vineyard, our hearts and our minds must be kept in Jesus Christ, as Saint Paul says, by “the peace of God which passes all understanding” (Phil 4:7). In this way our thoughts and plans will correspond to God’s dream: to form a holy people who are his own and produce the fruits of the kingdom of God (cf. Mt21:43).

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Show me your friends, and I will show you your future

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Show me your friends, and I will show you your future……..

These are very wise words that I picked up along the way from a source unknown to me. The people with whom you keep company will form you to think and act a certain way. Your friends are also indicative of your values. Generally, we don’t spend a lot of time with people who disrespect our values (unless we tolerate being disrespected). Our friends may not share our values, but they at least respect our values. The people who surround us shape our future, for better and for worse. Friends either lead us to faith or away from faith.

I could not even tell you my criterion for making friends when I was a child. I didn’t want to spend time around people who were doing morally bad things. I stayed away from one-on-one and small group experiences with kids of that type of reputation. Most of the people that I knew were religious or religious-in name only. Faith and God were not frowned upon, even though they might have been taken for granted. I went to Catholic school, so many of my friends were actually of the same religion as I. It was not a very diverse experience, but it was a very stable experience. That had its benefits. So long as I was careful, the values of my family had a pretty good chance of being passed along to me.

It wasn’t until high school that I really became exposed to people who thought and acted differently than the values of their surroundings. Being in a Catholic high school, the values system that was being revolted against was Catholicism. My classmates ranged from friendly to hostile against the faith and morals in which I was educated. Initially, my friends were more secularly-minded. They were not into questionable behavior, and they were somewhat friendly to religious practice. But they weren’t exactly enthusiastic about it. Really, they did it because that was what you did.

There was a group of kids in my school (my all boys Catholic school) that were overtly religious. They loved Jesus and going to Mass often. They went to Confession. They prayed when they didn’t have to pray! They went on mission trips and tried to bring other people to Jesus Christ. Overall, they were thought to be a bit wacky. I was never quite sure why, as they didn’t seem to be doing anything different than what everyone else was supposed to be doing. It was just that they were doing it more (and trying to do less of what no one should do, but people were doing anyhow behind closed doors). Generally, these people were disliked. I could not figure out why. Initially, I kept my distance from them.

It wasn’t until someone, a kid named Matt Niebauer, invited me to go to a Steubenville Youth Conference (Franciscan University of Steubenville) that I joined public Christian witness. That changed my life completely. I was exposed to a group of kids that I had never known before. They seemed very happy. They seemed very free. They seemed much more relaxed around each other. Girls and guys respected one another, and carried themselves in a more dignified way. That was new to me. I was surprised by it, and wanted to experience more of it. So, I began to go to retreats with my new friends, and go to prayer opportunities with them. I began to take advantage of service opportunities with them, too. The more that I participated, the more blessed I was!

I didn’t cut ties with my other friends. Some of them would eventually join me in doing things with the Christian kids, and some would not. That was ok. I didn’t want to attach any preconditions to keeping my friends. But, as life went on, and I went to new places, I would look for the type of friends that had Christ in the center of their lives. Catholicism was also a big plus. As I went into the seminary and priesthood, my social life changed a lot, and a different phase in my life began (and that’s another story!). But the principle “show me your friends, and I will show you your future” still holds true. Your friends of yesteryear have put you where you are now, and your friends of today will put you where you are going.

Likewise, you can be a very positive influence on your friends! Don’t underestimate that truth. As I learned in Cursillo, “Be a friend, make a friend, bring a friend to Christ.” Show me your friends, and I will show you your future. Is Jesus welcome in your circle of friends? If you want Him to be your friend, maybe He should be.

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