31 May 2008


I attended an ordination yesterday and a wedding last weekend. These events were beautiful and happy, but they were also dreadful! The ordinands and the couple gave themselves away for the rest of their lives. They will never be the same again. That is dreadful, in the literal sense of the word. How did they do it? By the supernatural virtues of faith, hope, and love poured into their souls by God. Faith gives a knowledge beyond the senses, hope gives an assurance beyond reason, and love gives a communion beyond even death. Every day has its share of beauty, happiness and dread. This is the Christian life. It is beautiful and happy but also dreadful. I noticed that at neither the ordination nor the wedding did we look the dread in the face. The beauty and the happiness carried us over it. But still the tears would come. So it is with the Christian life. Ask for more faith so that you know the love of God, for more hope so that you trust it, and for more love that you have union with it. The dread will still be in our lives, but faith, hope, and love cause beauty and joy to prevail.

28 May 2008

two vocations

The saints of the last two days are great stories of vocation and the new evangelization: St. Philip Neri and St. Augustine of Canterbury. Both of the saints in their own times and in their own ways (interestingly one by staying in Rome and the other by leaving Rome) had the vocation to re-evangelize places that had once been Christian but no longer loved the Lord Jesus. Some of us need to be like St. Philip and live the joy of life in Jesus among our fellow Catholics who have somehow forgotten His lordship. Others of us need to live the same joy and truth among the increasingly pagan culture we inhabit like St. Augustine among the Angles. A lot of us need to do both. Here at Vanderbilt, we have a mission like St. Philip's to students who do not really know why they are Catholic and also a mission like St. Augustine's to the university community which generally does not know the Lord. It's an adventure!

25 May 2008

Become What You Eat

By the mystery of this water and wine, may we come to share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled Himself to share in our humanity.

On this Solemnity of Corpus Christi, may we be reminded of the way He offered Himself, that we come to share in His nature. We must never lose sight of the inexplicable immensity of the Mass, where, as the Servant of God Mother Marie William MacGregor once said, "Divinity comes to nestle in your humanity."

Take to heart the words of St. Augustine:

Become what you eat; receive what you are.

22 May 2008

Advice for the New Evangelization

Be united but not closed off. Be humble, but not fearful. Be simple, but not naive. Be thoughtful, but not complicated. Enter into dialog with everyone, but remain yourselves.
Benedict XVI

11 May 2008

Empty nest

Life as a university chaplain has a unique rhythm. Graduation was Friday, and now the campus is as deserted as it ever is. I understand why people often ask me if my assignment at Vanderbilt is a full-time job. In a way of thinking, my job is only now reaching its critical point. We will now see if my work has paid off. Will the new graduates make Christ present in the world? Will the returning students use their summer occupations as vehicles for making the Good News of Jesus known? I am frankly delighted by the involvement and activities of the Vandy+Catholic students on campus and by their true witness to the fullness of faith in Jesus Christ that I see during the school terms. Yet another transition needs to be made out beyond the campus. I pray for the graduates and students that they will make the transition successfully. I see myself as running a pit stop in the race for souls. The pit stop needs to be as professional and well-equipped as possible, but the racers can only stop for so long. There is a race to be won. They will have to win it. Right now, another round of the racers has returned to the track. Now it is time for the pit crew to get ready for the next batch. Yes, it's a full-time job.

10 May 2008


Come Holy Spirit, renew the face of the earth. Renew us. The campus is practically empty, but the dumpsters are overflowing. Begin again, and travel lighter.

05 May 2008

Servants of Joy

My dear friends, this is also your mission: bring the Gospel to all; so that all may experience the joy of Christ and that there may be great Joy in every city. What could be more beautiful than this? What could be greater, what could create greater enthusiasm, than cooperating to spread the Word of Life, to communicate the living water of the Holy Spirit? Announce and witness this joy: this is the very heart of your mission, my dear deacons who will soon be priests. The apostle Paul calls the ministers of the Gospel “servants of joy”. In his second letter he writes to the Christians of Corinth: “Not that we lord it over your faith; rather, we work together for your joy, for you stand firm in the faith”. These are words destined for every priest. In order to be collaborators in the joy of others, in a world that is often sad and negative, the fire of the Gospel must burn brightly within each of you, the joy of the Lord must live in you. Only then will you be messengers of this joy, only then will you bring it to all, especially those who are sad and disillusioned.

~Pope Benedict XVI

03 May 2008

Show us the Father

St. Philip voices the longing of every human heart: to see the Father. Jesus reveals the Father in Himself. We are members of His Mystical Body so we should be aware of making Jesus present everywhere we go and in everything we do. This is apostolate.