Odds & Ends

oddsends[UPDATE: I am reliably informed that my rant about OSU’s hats and t-shirts should more appropriately be directed toward the CFP people and Nike. Nevertheless, it’s still fun to bust on Urban whenever and wherever possible.]

First off, congratulations to Ohio State University on winning the College Football National Championship. Great season, inspired play, hurray for the B1G, and all that.

But…[oh well, haters gotta hate]

What’s the deal with the hats and t-shirts? “Undisputed National Champions?”

Really? Are you afraid someone might call your championship into question? What’s up Urban? Feeling insecure?

To paraphrase Denzel Washington, “Nuts gotta be nuts.”

In other news…

Pope Francis I declared 2015 to be the Year of Consecrated Life in order to draw the Church’s attention to those who serve God as consecrated religious, and to pray for vocations to the religious life. It coincides with the 50th anniversary of Perfectae Caritatis, a decree on religious life.

In the press release announcing activities for YCL, USCCB President, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky said:

Our brothers and sisters in Christ living consecrated lives make great contributions to our society through a vast number of ministries. They teach in our schools, take care of the poor and the sick and bring compassion and the love of Christ to those shunned by society; others lead lives of prayer in contemplation for the world.

Being a Benedictine Oblate who lives in the Chicago area, I have the blessing of being able to spend lots of time at different monasteries, my “home abbey” being St. Procopius in Lisle. This past weekend though, I attended Mass at one of my favorite places in the city, Holy Cross Monastery.

Holy Cross is very different from St. Procopius. The monastery is young and vocations are growing. Their special charisms are hospitality and contemplation, while St. Procopius is a much older foundation dedicated to education. My father was educated by Benedictines, while my brothers and I were taught by the Sisters of St. Joseph and the Marianists. And though you may not know it, your life has probably been touched by a religious community at some point too.

All of them are different, but they are all united in their single-minded devotion to serving Christ and His Church. The world needs consecrated religious, now more than ever. And while it’s up to God to lead men and women into religious life, He also requires religious communities to constantly set an example of what it means to be radically Christian.

For vocations to grow, prayer is needed, but religious communities themselves must also challenge and support those who are discerning what God wants for their lives. Consecrated religious men and women must enflesh the vision of what it means to pursue God with one’s whole heart. They must be different from the world.

And since we’re on the topic, I want to take issue with a cardinal.

In a recent article published in Crux magazine, Cardinal Raymond Burke blames an overly “feminized” church, specifically the rise girls serving at the altar for the drop in priestly vocations. He was quoted as saying:

Young boys don’t want to do things with girls. It’s just natural. I think that this has contributed to a loss of priestly vocations.

…It requires a certain manly discipline to serve as an altar boy in service at the side of [a] priest, and most priests have their first deep experiences of the liturgy as altar boys. If we are not training young men as altar boys, giving them an experience of serving God in the liturgy, we should not be surprised that vocations have fallen dramatically.

With all due respect Eminence, I must disagree. First of all, speaking as a former altar boy, I can say that many girls I’ve seen serving at Mass do it quite well and with equal or greater reverence than most boys. [Pretty shocking coming from a conservative old crank like me, huh?] Second, being an altar boy does not predispose someone to a vocation in the priesthood. I know of only one young man from my parish church growing up who is now a priest, and he would have been one whether he had been an altar boy or not.

Now, I attend Mass most regularly at St. Procopius. The abbey uses young men from their prep school as altar servers. In the many years I’ve been affiliated with St. Procopius, I have yet to see one of those young men seek a vocation to the religious life, let alone the priesthood, and they’re around monks constantly! I suspect the problem lies elsewhere.

Cardinal Burke wasn’t finished though:

Apart from the priest, the sanctuary has become full of women. The activities in the parish and even the liturgy have been influenced by women and have become so feminine in many places that men do not want to get involved.

Um, yeah.

See, women—last I checked—are part of the household of God too. They are called to serve, in their unique way, for the edification of the body of Christ. No, they may not be priests, but there is little else they can’t do. And while I will grant you that some men will not involve themselves in the local parish because they don’t wish to deal with women, most men don’t because they either don’t know how, are threatened by a woman in charge of things, or they’re just plain lazy. Women are naturally more selfless when it comes to serving in this way, so they take up the slack.

But how does this retard the growth of priestly vocations? I don’t believe it does. Any man who is turned off by the thought of serving alongside women, probably shouldn’t be a priest in the first place. Take a look at the US military. Women serve in the military at all levels, in all forces, but according to the DoD, recruitment isn’t suffering. And while it’s not a life-long commitment, it is one that might get you killed, yet men are enlisting all the time.

So why is that?

Because men have an innate desire to be heroic, to be challenged. To tackle an adventure and overcome. To do something out of the ordinary.

If there is a decline in priestly vocations—I say if, because this is not the case universally—it is due to a lack of vision being imparted to the young by those in authority. Heroic, dynamic, masculine priests, who exude the qualities of fatherhood and leadership, attract young men who will follow that lead. When young men are challenged to do something rare, extraordinary, and difficult they often respond in the affirmative. And those are exactly the men the Church needs.

But who am I to say? I’m just another wooly back in the vast flock…but I’m also a Child of the Household.

Ok, enough whining.

Here’s a little something to lighten the mood. Reminds me of me: fuzzy and stupid, only shorter.