Saturday, June 23, 2007

Birth of John the Baptist

St. John the Baptist's proclamation of the Kingdom of God and Christ's coming is amazing! He immediately prepared the world for Christ, and he was then given the great chance to baptize Christ (see the right).

This great gift to the world of John is a testament that God wanted to prepare the world for the coming of Christ, just as He had prepared the body of Mary through her Immaculate Conception. This is such a great gift to the world that it too shared the great grace of the coming of Christ. In a sense, the people of God got to prepare for the coming of Christ.

We too should prepare for the coming of Christ into our own lives when we receive Holy Communion. Let's follow the example of John and prepare ourselves and the world for Christ's great of Himself.

- Pat

Friday, June 22, 2007

Happy Feast of St. Thomas More

Today is a great day for the Catholic Church, and its also a great day for anyone who studies the Theology of the Body.

St. Thomas More was martyred for his defense of the true faith, and while I'd love to write about how his martyrdom was a gift of self, there are other unique characteristics about his life that reveal the truths of the Theology og the Body.
During the 16th century, the Reformation broke out across Europe, and at first, King Henry VIII of England fought against the Protestants. In fact, he wrote a tract against Luther, and was awarded the title "Defender of the Faith." However, this wasn't to be forever.
Soon after, he desired to get a divorce because his wife couldn't bear any children. St. Thomas More who was his closest advisor, being that he was the Chancelor of England, wouldn't support the king. St. Thomas understood the true value and beauty of marriage. He himself was married and had children, and so he knew of the importance and joy of children. However, at the same time, he was a devout Catholic. It was this that cost him his head, literally.
The King was willing to forgive Thomas for his lack of support over the divorce issue, but when it came to Henry's next move, Thomas again wouldn't budge. The King was willing to break away from Rome to get his divorce, but this would mean that he would be excommunicated. But, his lustful and prideful disposition was too much for whatever desires that remained for holiness. And he broke away, yet Thomas stayed true to the faith and refused to allow that Henry would be in charge of the Church.
It was this desire to remain loyal to Rome, it was his desire to uphold a Church built on the marriage of Christ and the Church, rather than one built on the divorce of a man from his wife that kept Thomas on the path to holiness. His desires played out, and he was martryed. And now he's in heaven. His desire to live properly in a Church built on the right understanding of love and marriage was his saving grace!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Intro to our Patrons, Part II : St. Joseph

St. Joseph, how wonderful a saint he is. And, how often we don’t appreciate his role in Christ’s life and our own as he is the patron of the Universal Church.

St. Teresa of Avila writes:
“I took for my advocate and lord the glorious Saint Joseph and commended myself earnestly to him; and I found that this my father and lord delivered me both from this trouble and also from other and greater troubles concerning my honour and the loss of my soul, and that he gave me greater blessings than I could ask of him. I do not remember even now that I have ever asked anything of him which he has failed to grant. I am astonished at the great favours which God has bestowed on me through this blessed saint, and at the perils from which He has freed me, both in body and in soul. To other saints the Lord seems to have given grace to succour us in some of our necessities but of this glorious saint my experience is that he succours us in them all and that the Lord wishes to teach us that as He was Himself subject to him on earth, just so in Heaven He still does all that he asks.” (Autobiography, chapter 6)
It is this simple, if we allow if to be. St. Joseph holds such a high place in heaven, and he is so underrated. So many people only know of him because they’ll bury him upside down in their yard so that they can sell their house. Yet, there is so much more. As St. Teresa wrote, “To other saints the Lord seems to have given grace to succour us in some of our necessities but of this glorious saint…He still does all that he asks.”

This should be enough to make St. Joseph one of our patrons, however, our reasoning does not end here. St. Joseph embodies the theology of the body so well. Just like Mary, he became a gift of self. Just like Mary, he lived a virginal life (obviously not perfectly like her though). And just like Mary, he continues to show us the path to holiness so that we may one day see the face of God.

St. Joseph lived a gift of self so well. Pope John Paul the Great, in his Apostolic Exhortation on St. Joseph – Redemptoris Custos, wrote:
““‘The obedience of faith’ must be given to God as he reveals himself. By this obedience of faith man freely commits himself entirely to God, making ‘the full submission of his intellect and will to God who reveals,’ and willingly assenting to the revelation given by him.” This statement, which touches the very essence of faith, is perfectly applicable to Joseph of Nazareth.” (4)
He gave everything over for the Holy Family to thrive. He gave all his earthly actions to the raising of the Christ child. He gave all of his work for the protection of the Blessed Mother. And he gave his life as an example for Christ on how to love.

St. Joseph’s submission to the angel’s words in his dreams confirms this. At a moment’s notice, St. Joseph got up in the middle of the night and fled with Jesus and Mary into Egypt. The angel commanded, and he acted. This total laying down of one’s will for the Father must’ve had a profound affect on Mary and Jesus.

Furthermore, St. Joseph lived a life surrounded by the Word Incarnate and the Immaculate Conception. How much grace must’ve flowed through the house in Nazareth? After all, St. Joseph was living with Grace itself. Thus his actions and the desires of his soul would naturally have come to be the same or at least nearly always the same. This is so amazing to think about. St. Joseph was a man whose job was to care for God and the Mother of God. And as St. Thomas Aquinas writes, “Those whom God chooses for an office, He prepares and disposes in such a way that they become suited to it” (Summa Theologica, III. 27, 4). Thus, we can say with Pope Pius XI, “[God] enriched [Joseph] and filled him to overflowing with entirely unique graces in order that he might execute most faithfully the duties of so sublime a state” (Inclytum Patriarcham, ASS, 22, 65). How much then must his actions have reflected the holiness of his soul!

So, please pray to St. Joseph for us and thus fulfill the scriptures, “Go to Joseph” (Gen. 41:55).

- MoE

Intro to our Patrons, Part I : Our Lady Full of Grace

So this happens to be the first in a series of posts regarding the patrons of the organization. After a year of thought and prayer, we finally settled on patrons who we thought we fit wonderfully with the charism of the organization. And so we’re proud to announce the patrons for the Missionaries of the Eucharist:

Our Lady, Full of Grace
St. Joseph
Servant of God John Paul the Great
St. Therese of Lisieux
St. Thomas Aquinas

Each of these patrons has their influence on our charism, and we’re so glad that they’ve chosen to watch over us and help us bring the light of the faith into the world.

So, with this and four more postings, we’ll describe our patrons and why they’ve become so important in our daily lives.

In regard to the Blessed Mother, we actually looked at a few different titles, and through the whole summer of last year tried to sort through them to see which title was best for us. We came down to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Immaculate Conception, and Perpetual Virgin. We knew this was too many so we tried to figure out which would be best, and we came upon an idea that incorporated all of them.

The idea of Mary’s perpetual virginity flowed through all three ideas, but we wanted to make sure that we expressed more than just her spiritual virginity or her virginity before, during, and after the birth of Christ. That’s when we came upon the idea of Our Lady, Full of Grace.

Looking at the importance of the Incarnation in light of the Theology of the Body, we couldn’t get past what must have happened when the Angel Gabriel appeared to the Blessed Mother. The thoughts that must’ve gone through her head. The questions she must’ve had. All the confusion. All the hope and joy. Her fiat, her yes to the Lord, shows just how willing she was to become a gift of self for the salvation of mankind. She was willing to be ostracized, to claim that she had conceived God by God. She was willing to give away all her hopes and pleasures because she knew that this is what God wanted of her. She was willing to offer everything up, including her body.

Thus, the Incarnation took place, and God became man. Let us again ponder Mary. As St. Augustine mentioned, she had already conceived Christ in her heart, and at the Incarnation, she conceived Him in her body. This fiat had amazing affects. Just look at our Lady. She bore God in her womb. The Word of God became a human reality inside of her body. And, at the moment of her conception of Christ, she must’ve been living within the inner life of the Trinity. Just think…she was at the same moment allowing for the conception of Christ and was conceiving by the power of the Holy Spirit. All this was out of subjection to the will of the Father. She was experiencing the Trinity’s love for the world in a most profound way at the moment of the Incarnation. How much joy and love she must’ve experienced for she was caught in the midst of love itself!

So please join us in our devotion to Our Lady, Full of Grace as you pray for the Missionaries this summer.

-MoE

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Fathers Day

To all our fathers out there, happy Father's Day. We thank all of you for your support and your generosity. We'd also like to thank all priests and bishops. Thank you for your wonderful dedication to the Church.

(If you can't see the video below, click here to enjoy our thanksgiving video made most especially for our own dads.)

Happy Father's Day!



-MoE

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Happy Solemnity of the Sacred Heart

A special shoutout to Fr. Bill Byrne today in honor of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.


Join us as we celebrate today the great gift of Christ's love for us. Christ loved us "to the end" (John 13:1). And as His side was pierced on Calvary, Blood and Water flowed out. Christ's total gift of self transcends space and time now through the Eucharist, just as it transcended time on Calvary even after Christ died for us. The Blood and Water, Eucharist and Baptism, that flowed from Christ's side, even after He died, shows us that His love has no bounds, even death.


So remember that today as you contemplate the Sacred Heart. It is a sign of Christ's love and mercy (just think about how appropriate it is to say the Chaplet of Divine Mercy today).


-Moe

Religious Life as a Gift of Self

In my introductory post, I talked about how my entering the Dominican postulancy this summer is joyful because of the idea of the gift of self behind it. Not to say that there aren’t other reasons, but since the Missionaries of the Eucharist are all about living out a gift of self, I figure that this’ll be an appropriate topic.

Anyway, in Vita Consecrata, Pope John Paul II wrote, "When poverty is lived according to the example of Christ…it becomes an expression of total gift of self which the three Divine Persons make to one another” (21). This idea of the gift of self, in giving everything up for the sake of the kingdom, is at the heart of religious life, and it’s a wonderful experience, or at least as I can imagine.

Simply offering all of yourself in a totally special way to the Lord, giving up all possessions, even your time, and becoming completely poverished would seem to really live out what JPII says in the Theology of the Body: “the power to express love: precisely that love in which the human person becomes a gift…fulfills the meaning of his being and existence” (TOB 15:1). So through giving up your life, all your possessions, and all attachments, all for the sake of the kingdom, would naturally fit what the Pope says “fulfills the meaning of…existence.”

How wonderful is this?! As St. Francis said, “It is giving that we receive." Through the gift of ourselves, we can find out what the meaning of our life is. Through this gift of self, we can truly imitate Christ and become Him for the world. This gift of self in religious life has such a wonderful resemblance of this Christ-like presence in the world for through poverty, we become like Christ who humbled Himself and gave up everything as He became man. He was born into poverty in Bethlehem , and He died in poverty, even wearing nothing, on the Cross. His whole life was full of perfect poverty. Pray for myself as I seek to emulate that wonderful evangelical counsel. Pray for all religious that they may live their vows as fruitfully as possible.

In Christ and St. Dominic,
Pat

Inside our Daily Prayer Life

In case anyone who has prayed with us thus far is wondering why we pray the way we do, or in case anyone who will pray with us later along this summer wants to know, our prayer life is centered on the community. In a sense, you could say that we live a mendicant spirituality: an active ministry life with a community prayer life. In other words, our ministry is all about the gift of ourselves and the community to the world, and all the while, this is supported by our communal prayer life. So when we pray, we are praying to become a better gift of self to each other, to the Church, and to the world.

More specifically, though, we try to incorporate the ideas of the Theology of the Body into our daily prayer life. Thus, we pray in community, and in that community, we try to establish a communio personarum, a communion of persons. So we break into two choirs (groups) during our daily praying of the Liturgy of the Hours and the Rosary. We have the guys form one choir and the girls form another choir. This allows for the Theology of the Body ideas to really come into play.

In the Theology of the Body the Pope talks about coming to understand man in a better way. His “adequate anthropology,” which helps us to understand man all the better, shows us what it means to be man and woman. So in an effort to live this out in our lives, when we break into two choirs of guys and girls, we are really trying to use our masculinity and femininity in prayer in a way that helps the guys learn to be more like true men and the ladies to be more truly women.

The Pope also talks about taking everything that we’ve learned about our own masculinity and femininity and then appropriately viewing them in light of one another. So when we’re praying the Liturgy of the Hours and the Rosary we switch back and forth between girls and guys leading the Psalms or the mysteries. This allows us a chance to get to know the opposite sex even better, and thus, we are able to interact with others more appropriately.

When we pray the Liturgy of the Hours, we then move to the Gospel Canticle in which we all participate. This helps us to take all that we’ve learned about masculinity and femininity from our recitation of the Psalms and then appropriately use it in our understanding of how the Gospel should affect our daily lives. We apply the same principle with the prayers at the end of each decade of the Rosary. Through this understanding of ourselves, each other, and how we relate to one another, we are better able to understand God’s love in the Trinity. Hopefully, by the end of the summer, our community will more fully reflect God’s love in the Trinity, and maybe just maybe, we’ll be able to understand the Trinity a little more.

So please join us in praying the Rosary each day, and if you have a Breviary, please join us in our daily recitation of the Liturgy of the Hours. Each and every day, we seek to understand more fully what it means to live as men and women and then live together as a community. Please pray that we be able to respond to the wonderful graces that the Lord has in store for us with these wonderful principles that the late Holy Father has given to us.

-MoE

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Praying for the World

I am Leslee Simms. This will be my second summer of walking with the Missionaries of the Eucharist and I marvel at the grace of God which has allowed me to be here. I literally feel like I was picked up by the Holy Spirit and placed here. I can hardly believe that God loves me enough to have done this for me. I know that being here is a total gift of grace, nothing in my life merits what God has done for me.

Throughout my life God has watched out for me in a really amazing ways. My first powerful experience of God occurred when I was between 5 and 7 years old. I felt compelled to pray and spent what seemed like all night doing so. God was so real for me that night and spoke so deeply to my heart that even now when I have struggles and doubts I return to this experience for comfort. I have no idea why God spoke to me that night. Although my parents did occasionally talk to me about God, we never attended Church and religion was not really part of our lives. Despite this, God spoke to me and helped me draw close to Him.

Finally, when I was in middle school, my family and I began to attend Catholic Mass. It was absolutely beautiful and I fell in love. The longings of my heart now had a context. I soaked in all that was said like a sponge. Particularly wonderful was coming to know the Holy Spirit, who I had never heard of previously.

The next major moment in my faith journey came between my sophomore and junior years of high school. I was blessed to be able to attend World Youth Day in Toronto. Pope John Paul II was there. He was such an amazing and beautiful presence. At this time I really understood the beauty of Catholicism and I first heard my vocational call to be a religious sister (nun).

Due to the fact that I was feeling called to religious life, I decided to attend a Catholic college: the College of St. Benedict/ St. John’s University in Minnesota. During my freshmen year of college, I began to participate in daily Mass. It was so beautiful and became the source of my life. This was especially so as I grew in my understanding of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. One of my professors explained to us that at the moment of Consecration, we mystically leave normal historical time and are present at the foot of the Cross. We are graced to re-enter into the sacrifice of Christ and as He gives Himself to us fully out of His great love we receive His very body and blood, soul and divinity. This is Heaven on Earth and nothing is more beautiful.

As I was growing in my love for Christ and the Mass, I was also growing in the pro-life movement. Prior to coming to college, if anyone would have asked me, I would have said I was pro-life, but it was not really much of an issue for me. This just was not something that I thought about. Then, when I got to college, one of my friends signed me up for Students for Life (SFL). With SFL I attended the Midwest Students’ Forum for Life; it was an incredibly powerful experience. I remember one of the speakers saying that if we know abortion to be murder, and we know that 4,000 children are thus murdered everyday, we have to do something. This really struck me to the core: how can I sit back and do nothing when so many children are being killed and so many mothers are being wounded every single day?

At this same conference, I saw a flyer for the Crusade for Life. The flyer said that American Life League was looking for college students to walk across the country during the summer in order to spread the Gospel of Life. For several months I prayed about participating in the Crusade and finally in February I applied and was accepted. The Crusade began at the end of May and lasted until mid August. It was life-changing. We spent three months praying to end abortion and went to many, many clinics. Being outside of the abortion clinics is the hardest thing I have ever done. These places are filled with such immense pain. The women walking in are devastated. Despite what anyone might say, no one chooses abortion. People are there because they feel they have no other choice. There is no greater tragedy than that women would feel forced to kill their own children. When the women come back out of the clinics this becomes even more obvious. Most of the time they can barely walk, and always their faces are blank. It is so obvious that something has been irreplaceably taken from them. I cannot even begin to describe the horror that is carried in their bodies.

After being present at the clinics, I knew that I had to do whatever I could to help end abortion. This pain simply cannot be allowed to continue. It is killing our world, literally and spiritually. So…this is my third year doing a summer walk for life. Last year and this year has been not with the Crusade for Life, but with the Missionaries of the Eucharist, and our mission is somewhat broader. We are working to spread the Theology of the Body (TOB). Briefly, TOB is about the fact that all people are gifts and that to be in authentic relationships with others we have to give ourselves fully to them and allow them to give themselves fully back to us. On a human level, this occurs must perfectly in a marriage where love is free, total, faithful, and fruitful. However, all of our relationships should model truly treating everyone we meet as a wonderful and unique person. The complete antithesis of this type of loving relationship is abortion, where instead of being able to love their children; parents are forced into killing them. The pain all those involved with abortion feel is a testimony to how completely horrific this tragedy is. Please, please pray for healing for all those who have been hurt by abortion and please pray that abortion may end soon.

This is my constant prayer; it is the prayer of our summer and our mission. I know it will be accomplished. I know this because of the hope we have in Christ Jesus our Lord, who is the Lord of love. We see His love for us so perfectly in the Eucharist. On the Cross, Christ gave Himself completely to us out of love. He gives us His very body and blood, soul and divinity, holding absolutely nothing back. As Catholics, we have the amazing privilege of being able to receive this gift of Christ to us each and every day during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. This is so incredibly beautiful. I cannot even begin to think about how wondrous Christ’s love is. This love will heal the world. This is our hope as Christians. Our task is to live inside this hope and to allow God to work through us to share it with all the world. Let us go forth in prayer and hope!

God bless,
Leslee

! Corpus Christi Sunday !

Happy Solemnity of Corpus Christi!

This is one of the main feasts for the year for the Missionaries so all you Missionaries out there, celebrate accordingly!

In honor of this great feast, please read the reading from St. Thomas Aquinas. This is one of the main reasons that he's one of our patrons. If you apply the ideas of the Theology of the Body to his words, you can see why he is so sweet and appropriate for our charism.


O precious and wonderful banquet

"Since it was the will of God’s only-begotten Son that men should share in his divinity, he assumed our nature in order that by becoming man he might make men gods. Moreover, when he took our flesh he dedicated the whole of its substance to our salvation. He offered his body to God the Father on the altar of the cross as a sacrifice for our reconciliation. He shed his blood for our ransom and purification, so that we might be redeemed from our wretched state of bondage and cleansed from all sin. But to ensure that the memory of so great a gift would abide with us for ever, he left his body as food and his blood as drink for the faithful to consume in the form of bread and wine.

O precious and wonderful banquet, that brings us salvation and contains all sweetness! Could anything be of more intrinsic value? Under the old law it was the flesh of calves and goats that was offered, but here Christ himself, the true God, is set before us as our food. What could be more wonderful than this? No other sacrament has greater healing power; through it sins are purged away, virtues are increased, and the soul is enriched with an abundance of every spiritual gift. It is offered in the Church for the living and the dead, so that what was instituted for the salvation of all may be for the benefit of all. Yet, in the end, no one can fully express the sweetness of this sacrament, in which spiritual delight is tasted at its very source, and in which we renew the memory of that surpassing love for us which Christ revealed in his passion.

It was to impress the vastness of this love more firmly upon the hearts of the faithful that our Lord instituted this sacrament at the Last Supper. As he was on the point of leaving the world to go to the Father, after celebrating the Passover with his disciples, he left it as a perpetual memorial of his passion. It was the fulfilment of ancient figures and the greatest of all his miracles, while for those who were to experience the sorrow of his departure, it was destined to be a unique and abiding consolation."

Communio Personarum

It is amazing how quickly things progress. Just a week ago, I was picking up Ren from the train station in Baltimore and waiting for the rest of the walkers to come in that night. And here we are, having moved from Washington, DC, to Lancaster, PA, to Brooklyn, NY, and finally to outside St. Johnsbury, VT. All in a week. Training has been amazing, getting to know each other more and learn more about ourselves and the Lord. The amount of community that we’ve established so quickly has been wonderful. It probably was all those dinners that people made for us where we were able to sit and get to know one another. Thanks to all those who have helped us establish a better understanding of what Pope John Paul the Great called the communio personarum – the communion of persons.

When John Paul II spoke about the communio personarum, he spoke about man imaging God through a communion of persons, not just individually. He wrote:

“Man became the image of God not only through his own humanity, but also through the communion of persons…He is, in fact,’from the beginning’ not only an image in which the solitude of one Person, who rules the world, mirrors itself, but also and essentially the image of an inscrutable divine communion of persons” (TOB, 9:3).

This idea that man images God through a communion of persons is somewhat revolutionary in our understanding of what it means to be human. If this is true, then there can be no personal sin. All sin affects the Body of Christ, and moreover, each sin actually affects each and every person. If we love through a communion of persons, then why wouldn’t the opposite of love work the same way? Why wouldn’t our lust, even if it seems to be personal affect more than just ourselves?

Imagine this: a guy looks at pornography as a teenager. When he gets to college, those images are still in his head (just ask any psychologist). He imagines that his interactions with women are built around how he saw women in the pornographic images from high school. He gets out of college and gets married, and he quickly learns that his wife is not like those women from the magazines. In this example, we can see that what society would call a personal matter, i.e. pornography, actually affects this man’s understanding of women in college as well as his wife. Now, I can bet you that his wife doesn’t want to be objectified like those women in the magazines or on the Internet allow themselves to be. Thus, we can see how his “personal sin” is not personal at all but actually affects many of his relationships with women.

In the same sense, we can see the opposite affect. Hopefully, with our community this summer, we’ll see the love of God working through a communio personarum. Hopefully, we’ll be able to see a gift of ourselves to the other walkers. Hopefully, we’ll be able to appropriately image the inner-life of the Trinity through our interactions with one another. Please pray for us that as we move from training to the walk that we’ll be able to really live out the idea of the gift of self, and that we’ll best be able to become a communion of persons.

My name is Pat (but not for long)

That time has come once again. The summer has come, and I’m here to offer my summer, or at least what I can, to do the work of God in the Northeast. My name is Patrick Yungwirth, and this summer, I’m giving up all my time till the end of June to spread the Theology of the Body in the Northeast.

The walk has started, but things are a little different. Firstly, as last year’s walk leader, I’m coming along as a regular walker. Being that I’m leaving half way through, and the Lord has called Josh to lead, I’m stepping back and allowing the Lord to work for the future of the organization in the here and now; and it’s really exciting!

Getting to meet the walkers and training with them has been wonderful. With our intellectual and spiritual formation coming to an end, we’re praying that the Lord will give us the grace to get through the summer. And as long as we allow Him to work in our lives, then we’ll be sure to receive the grace He desires to bestow upon us. How wonderful will this all be, if we simply allow ourselves to become like clay in the Potter’s Hands!

So in light of us getting to know each other, why not share ourselves with the world? Thus, in an effort to allow those praying for us to know more about whom they are praying for, here’s a little about me (you should check out the rest of the walkers entries to learn more about them).

I grew up in a Catholic family, and when I was young my mother passed away, and my dad remarried a widow with five kids of her own. So now, my family is nine kids (four of them married including my sister who is married to Jesus – she’s a Benedictine). I have five nieces outside the womb, and a nephew inside the womb (he’s due in July so please pray for my sister’s pregnancy). I was always involved in the youth group in middle school and high school, and when I got to college, I started looking for some group to find myself. It took a year, but I soon found many friends at the Catholic Student Center at the University of Maryland.

During the winter break of my sophomore year, I picked up a copy of St. Augustine’s Confessions in an effort to get ahead for the spring semester, and by the time I had finished it, I had no idea why I had never read anything as beautiful before! It was amazing, and since I had previously hated reading, this was an amazing experience in my spiritual life. I soon after picked up my new copy of the Theology of the Body (it’s kind of weird to think that my second book after my intellectual conversion was the Theology of the Body). During the spring semester, I just began reading and reading and soaking everything I could up. The writings of the saints are so beautiful for they reveal the profundity of God’s awesomeness. How could I not want to read them?! They were exciting. They were fun. They were beautiful. They gave stories and accounts of the great glories of God, and they showed peace and joy of heart. They showed everything that we look for in life. What’s the meaning of life? Look to the writings of the Scriptures and the saints, and I guarantee that you won’t miss it!

I was so impressed with these beautiful writings that I naturally wanted to share them with the world. I found about this thing called the Crusade For Life, and so naturally, I thought this would be a good way to share the beauty of the faith as well as the idea that life is precious from the moment of conception to natural death. They were going to spend the summer walking from Maine to Washington, DC, and so I joined them. Two summers later, I found myself doing the same walk, only this time I was leading the walk, and it was for a new organization called the Missionaries of the Eucharist, which sought to spread the beauty of the Catholic faith and especially the teachings of the Theology of the Body. So here we are again, walking from Maine to DC spreading the beautiful teachings of Holy Mother Church!

This summer, my path will be a little different however. Being that I’m entering the Dominicans this July (my novitiate begins on July 6, so please pray for me; also, I’ll tell more about my discernment in another post), I have to leave the walk early for the first time in four summers. Pray for me and the walkers as we begin to open ourselves up to the Lord and find ourselves learning from His Sacred Heart. Pray that we might be like libation flowing from our Lord’s Heart into the world.

In Christ and St. Dominic,

Patrick

The Softening of a Hardened Heart

JMJ

“The Lord has done great things for me and Holy is His name.” Whenever the Lord draws us deeper into the mystery of His love, He first demands that we come out of ourselves. Every great conversion in my spiritual life has come only after I have left my own will behind and submitted to the wisdom of God. I did not want to go to Catholic University; I went to Catholic University. I did not want to go to the Msgr. Reilly retreat to learn how to sidewalk counsel; I went to the Msgr. Reilly retreat (praise be to God). I did not want to go on the walk last year; I went on the walk last year. I did not want to say yes to my vocation, I said yes to my vocation. And I do not regret a single Amen.

I gazed upon the innocence of a child, so full of love and simplicity; his heart ready to conform to whatever you teach him. “My God I want to be a mother.” My heart yearned to find a holy man, to marry him, and to raise our children under the watchful eyes of you, my Lord. “So if you want me to be religious it’s going to have to be you.” I did not realize how prophetic these words would prove to be. My eyes towards the holy altar, “Lamb of God you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.” My eyes gazed upon Him who died for me and my heart spoke, “that is Jesus, and I am to be His bride.” A flood of tears poured forth from my eyes. Have mercy. What greater mercy is there then to call me into marriage with Him? Grant us peace. What could bring me more peace then to give my life to Him?

As I recounted my story to Br. James the tears came again. With a heartfelt joy he congratulated me as one would congratulate one who had just been engaged. How could I have known that this encounter would be my salvation only a couple of months later?

So what was the first thing I did after the walk had ended a few weeks later? I started dating someone. Oh stubborn heart! Why dost thou flee from thy Lover! My heart was not at peace. I spent hours in the chapel trying to convince myself that it was. This war within my heart overflowed into my relationships with others and into other aspects of my life. May God have mercy on me for my selfishness and the way that I treated those dear to me.

Providentially Br. James, the Dominican I had talked to the day after my initial call, lives at the Dominican House across the street from my school. I sheepishly approached him and told him of my decision. May God be praised for speaking to His servant when I had refused to listen. I think that Br. James knew what I had rationalized away: the Lord was calling me. I met with him a few times and he spoke to me of the holiness of the religious vocation. It was as if He was speaking to my very being. I could not suppress my heart as it began to beat at his every word. The Lord would not be suppressed. I fought it. It would not be defeated.

He brought me into His presence before the Holy Tabernacle and I began to say the sorrowful mysteries. “My Lord I will not abandon you in the garden. My God I will tend to the wounds caused by the scourging of the whip and the crowing of thorns. Sweet Jesus I will stand at the foot of your cross. I want to love you. I want to love your people. Yes, ‘Here I am Lord.’” And so I took the first step but there were many more to follow. The word “yes” is not simply a word but something which we must live out.

“I think I’m called to the religious life.” It was time for the break-up. “He’s a better man than I” was the response I received. True enough. So why was this so difficult? He took it rather well, which didn’t surprise me. I on the other hand had a long journey in front of me. The break up was more than simply ending a relationship with one guy. It meant ending a relationship with all would-be potential future guys. It meant admitting that at some point in my life I would lose what the world considers my “freedom.” It meant that in the future I will leave behind all that I know and enter into the unknown, somewhere between this world and heaven. I don’t do well with change. These “losses” are what I focused on and it is precisely these thoughts which lead me into a dark hour I had never experienced before.

Over the course of the next few months I think I cried almost every day. I began to isolate myself more and more. My charity towards my friends was faltering even more. How could I think of them when I was so focused on myself and what I was “losing?” Hardly anyone knew of the inner struggle within which my soul was entrenched. I grabbed a Divine Mercy card and would stare at His image whenever sorrowful thoughts entered my mind. For the first time in my life I questioned the existence of God. I plan on giving my life to Him one day, what if He doesn’t exist? Praise God my guardian angel quickly came to my defense and guarded me against such thoughts as soon as they appeared.

It would be a few weeks before I finally allowed the Lord to begin to let His light cast out the darkness in my soul. “My God I want to love thee and thee alone. I want you to be the first thing I think of when I wake up in the morning. I want you to be the last thing I think of when I lay my head down to sleep. I want to pray without ceasing. I want to live for you.” My heart cried out for my God. And so He answered. He gave to me three prayers to repeat whenever I felt weak: not my strength but Yours, not my love but Yours, Amen so be it. Little by little, what I expressed with my lips I began to feel in my heart. His love conquered my sorrow, His light dispelled my darkness, and He has “put into my heart a greater joy than they have from the abundance of corn and new wine.” This is what He had desired from the beginning. He softly whispered to my heart “my child, do not focus on yourself. Come, find your strength in turning towards me and gazing upon my suffering body. Lift your eyes to the cross and look upon He who died for you. Immerse yourself in my Sacred Blood and Water, for my heart was pierced for you. My child, my love, be not afraid.

Yours in Christ,

Maeve

Saturday, June 09, 2007

May I be your feet Lord?

+jmj+

PRAISE BE JESUS CHRIST! NOW AND FOREVER!

Howdy All, my name is David Aloysius Sao and I am a student at The Pennsylvania State University (GO STATE!) studying Psychology, I am 22 years old (23 during the walk) and originally from Philadelphia, PA.

Growing up in a non-practicing Buddhist family, I dappled in many different religions and occults until settling on the thought there was and is no God. During elementary and middle school, I had a lot of discipline and academic problems in the public school system, so my parents sent me to Cardinal Dougherty Roman Catholic High School. Through the guidance of our School Minister there, a retreat called Kairos, my community work with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the grace of God, I came home to the Church. On Easter Vigil, March 30, 2002, at St Helena’s Roman Catholic Church, I received the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and First Holy Communion. (Praise God!)

After high school I attended Penn State University. At Penn State God truly blessed be with an AMAZING Catholic community where I was able to grow in my faith and closer to the Lord. From there I was able to discover a desire of my heart, which I have been discerning with my spiritual director, which is to respond to a vocation to Priesthood in the Holy Roman Catholic Church.

I have the honor and privilege this summer to be walking with the Missionaries of the Eucharist. The Lord works in very mysterious ways. It was mid-January and my life was very hectic due to many things I had absolutely no control over. During that time my response was a good one, I wanted to be radical in my love for the Lord through the Catholic Church. I realize that the March for Life was coming up quickly and I wanted to do more but I didn’t know how. This would have been the 9th year attending the March for Life, and for the last two years I have been able to spend the whole weekend in DC attending Youth Rally’s and the Vigil for Life. The week before the March I received an email form the Missionaries of the Eucharist. The Missionaries were planning to walk from Baltimore to Washington DC, a 40 mile journey. Without much detail, I asked my spiritual director if I can do this and with a good ahead. I emailed the Missionaries back asking for more details and by the providence of God, I received an email back from JOSH GUENTHER! Josh had gone to Penn State for a semester and now he was one of the leaders of Missionaries at the University of Maryland. So I packed by bags the next day and headed down to Washington to join the Missionaries. It was one of the most powerful things I have ever done.

So here I am, telling you what God has done. Please pray for my this summer that I can constantly prepare my heart for the Lord and I will keep you in my prayer and heart. If you have any prayer request, do not hesitate to email MissionariesoftheEucharist@gmail.com and you can check out website www.DaveSao.com . May you find rest and joy with Jesus in the womb of our Lady.

God bless,
Dave

What my spiritual director told me....

June 6, 2007

“If you don’t come back normal, I’m gonna kill you!”

So yeah, exactly what possesses a dozen college students to spend their summer – from the beginning of June to mid-August – walking over a thousand miles through eleven states? Well, it’s all about the New Evangelization and the Theology of the Body. The way I see it, it’s a matter of living as witnesses to God’s love for us. And how better can we understand our relationship to God than with ToB?

Who am I, and why in the world am I so excited about this walk? Well, I am an undergraduate at the University of Maryland, College Park, studying Government and Politics and Philosophy. I learned about the summer walk while doing a shorter, 40-mile walk with the Missionaries of the Eucharist the weekend right before the Mass and Rally for Life. During that walk, I felt a whole lot of peace and joy, through prayer and community life – perhaps more than I had ever felt before. I knew that God really wanted me to go on that walk. And so, after a lot of questions and trying to figure things out, I was able to join the MoE for the summer walk. My parents weren’t too excited about the idea, since it meant I would be away from home for another 2.5 months. And of course, it required a lot of faith, hope, and love on my part – I really needed to trust that this was what the Lord wanted me to do, that I can actually last the entire walk.

So far, it has been an amazing experience. The walk hasn’t even begun yet – so far we’ve had a week of training. Nevertheless, the people we have met and the experience of community life have been wonderful. We heard talks on community life from Fr. Bill at the CSC and Br. Hyacinth of the DHS. We’ve learned to express ToB through swing dance. We met Christopher West (!) and related ToB with the Apostle’s Creed. We went to the Monastery of the Precious Blood in Brooklyn to meet Msgr. Reilly, who is a world-famous leader in prayer vigils. And now we are up in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, where it still falls to 40 degrees at night (“Vermont does not know it’s June!”) and where stars are actually visible.

I look forward to this summer. I know that it will be a period of formation for me and greatly anticipate growing in spirituality. I also know that it will be a period of trial, of hardships – both physical discomfort and spiritual combat. But not to worry – I am confident that these sufferings will bear great fruit. Until next time – God bless, pray for us.

-Martino Choi

Coming Home...

My name is Ren (short for Lauren) and I’m a revert to the Catholic faith. I was brought up in a minimally Catholic family. I attended Catholic school from K-8th grade and started at a Catholic High School. However, during my freshman year I became extremely sick and only attended school sparingly, doing most of my school work at home. In 11th grade the school asked me to leave; they felt unable to meet the special needs of my health. I ended up bedridden for much of my high school years and therefore was unable to participate in the sacraments. My only spiritual outlet was a Protestant radio station, and because of my inadequate Catholic catechesis growing up I quickly became anti-Catholic. During my junior year of high school a friend brought me to a Presbyterian Church. I loved it! The congregation’s love for Jesus was evident in their worship service, something I didn’t see in the Catholic Church. The pastor of the church gave me the Presbyterian catechism and I decided to join the church. However, when I approached God in prayer the answer was a very blunt ‘no’. This distressed me because I longed to be part of a family of believers, not having found that type of community within my biological family or childhood church.

Freshman year of college started and I wasn’t attending any church services. A friend and I began to speak of Christianity, and she brought me to the local Methodist Church. Once again I asked God if I could join this church and once again the answer was simply ‘no’. Frustrated, I dove into bible study, became involved with the college Intervarsity Christian Fellowship Club and decided that since the Bible was the only authority I would keep its precepts as literally as possible. This led me to a local Baptist Church and the extreme religious beliefs of 24/7 headcoverings for women, long skirts only, women as homemakers, etc. However, during this time I also formed ‘my’ moral theology. This moral theology included things not found in the Protestant Churches I was looking into – anti-contraception, anti-abortion, anti-divorce.

Slowly God softened my heart towards Catholicism, and I could feel Him guiding me gently to re-think Catholicism. Disgusted by the apparent lack of love for Christ, I began to attend Catholic Mass early on Sundays and then join my friends at the Baptist Church. This happened for quite a few weeks until I received an email. The email was from a lady who must have seen one of my emails from a listserv I belonged to. She told me that she felt God lay it on her heart to email me and answer any questions I may have about Catholicism. Ordinarily, I would have ignored the email, but because God had been speaking to my heart about Catholicism, I replied. Through many emails she helped me work through my poor catechesis and false understandings of Catholic doctrine and discipline.

What happened next I can’t explain. The conversion of my heart was by no means a mere matter of being convinced intellectually, nor any merit of my own. God simply broke down the walls of my heart and opened my eyes to the truth. I stopped attending the Baptist Church, I fervently searched for more information on the Catholic Church, and finally on June 21, 2006 I went to Confession for the first time in over six years. It hasn’t even been a year since my re-entrance to the Church, and this time has been so amazing. I am so thankful to God for rescuing me from ignorance and bringing me back to the beautiful Catholic faith.

How did I end up with the Missionaries of the Eucharist after less than a year back in the Church? I met Vicki at a Catholic Underground in NYC, and saw the pictures of the MOE Summer 2006. I also met some of the Missionaries at a New Years Mass in Newark, NJ and then again at a Philadelphia Underground. But that doesn’t explain how I ended up here this summer, it only explains how I discovered these amazing young men and women. I thought that this summer would be relaxing for me; I’d get a job and continue my personal devotions. However, Less than 2 weeks before training began God laid it on my heart to come! I’m here first and foremost because it is God’s will. Personally though, I’ve felt the pain that comes with the Culture of Death, and since my reversion I’ve made it my personal mission to “proclaim the beauty of the Catholic faith” (which just happens to be our new slogan this year!) After being trained by Christopher West at the Theology of the Body Head and Heart Immersion Course in January, I was so excited to have found the answer to humanity’s most basic and fundamental questions about life and living….but I couldn’t figure out how to share the treasure I had found. Missionaries of the Eucharist does this, and I am so blessed to be a part of it.

I will be with the Missionaries from the beginning of training until June 21 at which time it is God’s will that I return home. I will be volunteering at the Sisters of St. Joseph Retreat Center in Cape May, NJ for a few weeks before entering my aspirancy with the Dominican Nuns of Our Lady of the Rosary Monastery in Summit, NJ (July 21-August 11…pray for me!)

God bless,
Ren

Friday, June 08, 2007

Fr. Leo mentions the Missionaries

Fr. Leo Patalinghug, host of the upcoming PBS show, Grace Before Meals, mentioned us in a recent email blast:

"Okay, now that I’m off my soapbox, I’ll tell you about my first edifying experience. I was privileged to “train” a group of young adults (ages ranged from 19-24) who ill walk from the state of Maine to the nation’s capital this summer. They call themselves The Missionaries of the Eucharist. In the estimated nine weeks of “pilgrimage,” they will literally “walk the talk” by evangelizing the towns, homes, and church communities who will welcome them. They desire to spread a positive message about relationships and a healthier understanding of human love, which is captured in a teaching called “Theology of the Body.” This teaching came from the late and beloved Pope John Paul II. It challenges the pop culture view of destructive choices, especially in matters of human love and human life. The Pope’s insight clarifies how a “free love without responsibility mentality” has actually enslaved our culture, not freed it. This pop culture notion does very little to build up anything because it forgets that conjugal love is a Gift – not a right!

"This group also wanted to learn more about how to strengthen family dynamics through the family meal. They will be hosted by families along the way and want to take advantage of that community–building opportunity. I would like to think they came to the right place. They arrived on Saturday afternoon after a long ride from the DC area. I intuitively recognized their fatigue and hunger, and offered to share my thoughts with them around a meal. It’s so much more effective to form the mind and soul when the body is refreshed and nourished. The “Grace Before Meals” theme carried through to our conversation and prayer during their training session. It was an edifying experience! My dear Missionaries of the Eucharist, may God be with you every step of the way."

- from the Grace Before Meals email blast, June 6, 2007


Thanks so much, Fr. Leo!

(You can find out more about Grace Before Meals and sign up for Father's always excellent and edifying email blasts by visiting http://www.gracebeforemeals.com.)

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

"You can't give what you don't have"

For nearly a week, the Missionaries of the Eucharist have been hard at work in preparation for this summer's walk. How blessed they have been to receive training from some of the best!

On Saturday, they visited Fr. Leo Patalinghug (host of Grace Before Meals) for talks on building community and on spiritual warfare.

Just yesterday, they were treated to a day-long session with Christopher West (author of Theology of the Body Explained).

Over the next few days, they'll continue to prayerfully equip themselves to share the magnificent teachings of Pope John Paul II - the Theology of the Body - with the countless individuals that they'll meet throughout the summer.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

My Name is Robert Schmeel

Hello everyone. Dave advised me to say that my name was Robert Schmeel. But it isn't really. My real name is Eric Forrest.

I've never been a Missionary of the Eucharist before and this is the first time I've ever met any of these people, but it is shaping up to be a wonderful experience. Last night when Dave was half asleep and talking too fast for his brain to follow, he told us all of the "Jorious" mysteries of the rosary, and regailed us with tales of his adventures in the "Luminous Prairies". I hope one day that Dave will pray the Jorious mysteries with me, but I am having doubts about whether or not he didn't just make them up. Perhaps these doubts are a diabolical delusion...further discernment is required.

About me: I am a film production major at the University of Southern California, and I graduate in December 2008. I grew up in Marietta, GA. I have a twin sister named Jessica who I love very much. I also have a Mum and a Pop who I love very much.

St. Anthony of Padua, pray for us
St. Joseph of Cupertino, pray for us
St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us
St. Pio of Pietrelcina, pray for us

Post Script: The above saints have been my favorite since before I can remember, but I didn't realize until recently that they were all Franciscans. In fact, I think that they all would have been Capuchin Franciscans if they had the chance. St. Pio actually was a Capuchin. St. Joseph tried to be a Capuchin, but they wouldn't take him. St. Anthony and St. Francis weren't alive when the Capuchins started, but I really think they would have joined up if they were born a few hundred years later. In fact, now that I think of it, I think that they would probably all be CFRs if they were around in the 80's.

--Eric Forrest

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Summer 2007 Introductions

My name is Josh Guenther. This year I have been given the privilege of being the leader of the walk through the Northeast from Maine to D.C. I am totally excited to be able to share my summer with such an amazing group of people. It is such a grace to grow in love in our community and to take this out to all those we meet in the streets, in parishes and to families. This is a great opportunity for me to grow in holiness and to learn to become a better and more humble leader.

I am currently a music major at the University of Maryland, College Park and am between my junior and senior year. I am unsure about where God is calling me after I graduate but I hope that this summer will assist with my discernment.

Please pray for me and for all the Missionaries that we may follow the Lord's will and bring Christ to all those we encounter this summer. I am confident that it will be amazing!



--Josh Guenther



Saint Joseph...pray for us!

Friday, June 01, 2007

2007 Summer Walk will soon begin!

Training for the 1000-mile journey has begun! This week, ten young adults convened in College Park, MD, to prepare for their two-month trek across the Northeast. Next week, they will drive to Augusta, ME, where the walk will begin on June 11.

Please keep them in your prayers!

Who we are?

Every summer we, the Missionaries of the Eucharist, are walking from Lewiston, Maine to Washington, DC to proclaim the beauty of the Catholic faith to everyone we meet, specifically through the Theology of the Body.

Conversion begins in our own hearts,which is why prayer is so important to our ministry. For this reason, everyday of our ten week walk begins with daily Mass. By receiving Christ in the Eucharist, we are given the grace to be the Love of Christ not only to those in our community but also to those we meet in the streets.

We walk throughout the day to be a witness of love. We are grounded in prayer-we pray with our lips, our hearts, and our bodies. In walking an average of twenty-five miles per day, we offer our fatigue as a gift of love to Christ and the people we meet. Our walking is both sacrifice and prayer.