Tag Archive: life


mother of priests

 

It was my fault. I asked for it. Yes, some years ago, I asked that the Lord would make me the spiritual mother of a priest. In His greatness, He chose first to show me exactly what that meant. You see I thought this vocation entailed nice theological discussions, gentle mentoring, sending packages with cookies, crying at ordinations, joyously partaking of the altar and assisting with advice. My vision of sunshine and roses was shattered in the month of May, 2013. God showed me a way laden with pain and sorrow, which was not a flowery image but an echo of Calvary.

Without divulging the events of the past month,  I will tell you that after pleading so long, it was finally shown to me the requirements needed to be the spiritual mother of a priest. The mother of a priest lives in uncertainty, trusting everything to God who sees beyond the human realm. She is not Pollyanna- but Mary who hears a prophecy of arrows, tends a poor and bruised child, hated from birth, walks with him to the rugged cross and sees him buried in the cold tomb. She who would be mother to a priest must feel the pains of the mother of Christ. She must lose him for three days, find him in the temple, declaring independence from earthly things, must watch him be scorned, rejected and despised, stripped of everything so that he even cries “My God why hast thou forsaken me?”

Priesthood is a bloody, painful affair, fraught with dark nights, the sweat of Gethsemane, the agony of Calvary. Brave enough, a man must give himself up, but as Christ died completely, in body, soul and spirit, upon the cross, so a man must utterly die. More sorrowful still, the mother of that man who must witness it all.

In a short time, compared to the whole span of life, I relived Mary’s seven sorrows. I lost something that was cherished immensely and buried it in the earth. I said goodbye to my dreams and desires, to my complacence and happiness. In turn however, I gained a trust in God, a closeness to Blessed Mary and a promise of future resurrection. We live the gloom of Good Friday and wait through the emptiness of Holy Saturday so we may rejoice at Easter Sunday. It is always darkest before dawn and so the darkest eve of despair gives way to glorious, golden sunrise.

I also know now that the devil ruthlessly attacks those destined for the seminary door, before they have even stepped foot in it. God taught me how to put up defense, asking for the shelter of his angels. The fragile, sheet-metal casing of my heart, He hammered into shining, iron armor. With the ore of my soft, pampered hands, He chiseled a broadsword. And with that sword I will slash the devil. I will not forget but fight, my every prayer forming a fortress for our future priests. The sorrowful mother is wounded- and allows herself to be so. She lets the serpent bite at her heel so she may savor even more the moment when he is crushed. She endures crucifixion so her face may shine even more radiantly at the resurrection.

And when the mother of a priest kneels before the altar, wearied by that battle, the copious blood of Christ washes over her. The sweet, Eucharistic chalice is balm to her wounds, polish upon her sword, fire within her heart and the pledge of forsworn victory.

 

Mary, Mother of Sorrows, Companion at the Cross, Ewe of God’s Lamb, Light of Confessors, Queen of Apostles, Mother of Priests,  pray for us.

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Dear, Life Magazine and editors of Life Magazine:

I recently bought and read your “Pope Francis” issue of Life Magazine, Volume 13. No. 8 March 29, 2013. It was full of beautiful photographs and packed with information that was fairly free of bias. I commend you for giving the historical facts about Catholicism being Christianity’s oldest branch, the excavation of St. Peter’s tomb and the myth of Pope Joan. However your gloss over the Crusades was one-sided, viewing them more as a campaign for material gain than a defensive maneuver to protect Christian pilgrims.

Your coverage of past popes and their lives was meaningful. It keenly followed the history of Catholicism up to the present day. Your connecting the dots from antiquity to this modern day was very engaging.  Most people do not realize how old the Catholic Church is and that its roots lie in Biblical times, starting from the apostles. Thank you for showing us this!

Now I must share some criticism. On the section about Pope Benedict XVI, a flash of bias came out strongly. Your treatment of him was harsh, implying he was a cold figure of the “old church” with his outdated bans on birth-control and gay-marriage. Worst of all, you said he did nothing to stop child abuse.

Allow me to make my first point that Pope Benedict’s stance on moral issues is no different from any other pope’s. Both John Paul II and even the darling John XXIII spoke against gay-marriage and birth-control. Pope Francis has already and will continue to do the same, going to uphold what the Catholic Church has taught for 2,000 years. It’s absurd to think otherwise and reflects a very poor understanding of Catholicism. The problem is precisely that you don’t understand the Catholic Church. You even state: “The Catholic Church is older than democracy”. Yet you seek to impose modern, democratic values on it?

The Church doesn’t need to get with the times, it is beyond the times. Archbishop Fulton Sheen once said: “If the Church should marry the modern age, she would find herself a widow”. Don’t you get it? Catholicism came before this era and will be here after. It is something bigger than us- because it came from Someone bigger than us. Instead of criticizing Catholic leaders for not catering to modern whims, your publications should appreciate their perseverance, ancient tradition and sticking to principles laid down by Jesus Christ – not the majority vote.

Allow me to make my second point. A majority of child-abuse cases occurred before Pope Benedict XVI’s pontificate. Some date back from the 60’s and 70’s before he was even ordained a priest! May I also elaborate on the fact that our own American society does little to stop the exploitation and abuse of children that happens in our schools, by their relatives or human traffickers. In fact, a child is more likely to be molested at school or at home than in a Catholic Church. Where is our accountability? Why don’t we take responsibility for producing a culture where children are prepared for sexual activity at increasingly younger ages? We cannot even live up to the rigorous standards we apply to the Catholic Church.

Moreso, the measures Benedict XVI implemented to protect future abuse and his changes to discipline in the Vatican went completely unmentioned. To be honest, it looked like you couldn’t find the answers and looked for someone to blame.

Lastly, more detail was given to Pope Benedict XVI’s shortcomings than to his brilliance as a theologian and burning love for his faith. As I said, you regarded him as more “cold, old church” than a man who wanted to set things right. Could he have done better? Yes. We all can do better.

Pope Benedict XVI was a shining example of Christian discipleship who made others fall in love with Christ. It was sad you couldn’t see this beneath the scapegoating. Your criticism of previous popes such as Pius XII and of the College of Cardinals was more fair. Why couldn’t you be fair to Benedict XVI? The man was old, weary and beaten down by years of the media basically crucifying him. Beneath all the power, you should have seen a human being. I figured you could have treated him more kindly is all.

You may not all be Christian, maybe none of you are, but I believe you can learn a thing or two from Christ when he said: “The measure by which you judge others will be measures unto you.”

Sincerely,

Rachel Gohlman.

 

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Overall rating :6 out of 10 (slightly above average but still pretty average)

Please consider buying my Cardinal Fratelli books for someone special this Christmas. Revolving around the mishaps of a blundering clergyman, they feature a light-hearted look at Christian faith, family and life. They are available on Amazon.com, Nook and Kindle!

 

 

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^ This is the first volume, it introduces us to the lovable character of Cardinal Fratelli and shows us the little mishaps that occur every day as he lives out his priestly vocation. See how profoundly, a relationship with the Lord effects his life in meaningful- and comical ways!

http://www.amazon.com/Misadventures-Cardinal-Fratelli-1/dp/1477632255/ref=la_B0074P0N5G_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1351615524&sr=1-1

 

 

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The second volume is all about Cardinal Fratelli’s plans for Christmas. Here, you get to meet his entire family and see their funny quirks. A strong message about the real reason for Christmas is also written into these pages. It is wonderful, endearing and hilarious!

http://www.amazon.com/The-Misadventures-Cardinal-Fratelli-Fratellis/dp/1478141514/ref=pd_sim_sbs_b_2

 

 

HAVE A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A FUNNY NEW YEAR!

 

 

 

A lot of churches don’t seem to take Baptism seriously. They baptize with no questions asked. I have seen churches re-baptize those who are already validly baptized “in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit”.

– That additional baptism is playing around with water. Baptism should be seen as entry into the Kingdom of God, an act that confers graces by obedience. The power of baptism comes from the name of the Trinity and the grace of God, not the amount of water used or the number of times it’s done. It is entering into the Christian faith and should be treated as a promise to God and to the faith. Many see this as an empty “symbol”

 

Here is what your standard, secular source (www.wikipedia.com) will say about baptism:
“In Christianity, baptism (a word derived from Greek baptizo: “immersing”, “performing ablutions”)[1] is the ritual act, with the use of water, by which one is admitted as a full member of the Christian Church and, in the view of some, as a member of the particular Church in which the baptism is administered. The most usual form of baptism among Early Christians was for the candidate to stand in water and water to be poured over the upper body. Baptism has traditionally been seen by many as necessary for salvation.

The article continues:
Baptism makes the person share in the Trinitarian life of God through “sanctifying grace,” the grace of justification that incorporates the person into the body of Christ and his Church), also making the person a sharer in the priesthood of Christ. It imparts the “theological” virtues (faith, hope, and charity) and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and marks the baptized person with a spiritual seal or character that indicates permanent belonging to Christ. Baptism is the foundation of communion between all Christians.” 

 

Even those who aren’t Christian at all realize the history of how Christians have viewed baptism and how they have held it to be a most-sacred sacrament.

“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. “ – John 3:5

This also matches the wording of Jesus when stating another point central to Early Christianity: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.” – John 6: 53.

The Apostles baptized and broke bread…and they took it very seriously. They believed that the act of consuming communion gave them life! What does this have to do with anything? Jesus states that baptism and communion are central to the faith. They are incorporating the faithful into His life. When Jesus’s side was pierced, blood and water poured out. These things are the life of Christ. – And the apostles knew it.

“Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of
God?  This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by
water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.
For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy
Ghost: and these three are one.  And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.” – 1 John 5:5-8

 

Baptism and Communion in particular is what made Christians distinguishable from many of the early pagan sects. Sure these pagan sects had ceremonies similar to Christian baptism and communion but it was precisely the action of Christ that distinguished them. These previous things were just symbols and ceremonies, for the Christian, these are sacraments, actual manifestation’s of Christ’s promises!

Baptism is mentioned in the ancient Apostle’s Creed as a definition of faith “We believe in one baptism” (“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism.” -Ephesians 4:4-5 ). The creed and Paul’s letter to the Ephesians both state one baptism. It is one baptism that gives us re-birth in Christ, not two or three or four. One baptism is all that;s needed!

I think that in order for churches to be more unified and strong, they need to stop reducing Christ’s sacraments to symbols. These were teachings held dearly by the Apostles, given by Christ. They need to partake in the blood and water…and be nourished.

 

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My Testimony:

I have always been quite a counter-culturalist. Celebrating life off the beaten path, finding my own trends and rejecting the dominant, materialist, fame-obsessed lifestyle. This is the story of a nerdy goth girl who is Catholic…or how I managed to incorporate Catholic into being nerdy goth. Whatever way you want to see it.

I mustn’t get preachy; Lord knows I sin as much as the next person. Yet, I’ve noticed my generation’s preoccupation with money, popularity and gratuitous sexual acts. I never considered sex until I was in college, daring as it sounds, and had dated the guy for a year. After getting my heart smashed into pieces and meeting despair head-on, I experienced my wild phase. Physical satisfaction brought nothing but misery at the end. Regardless of how sexy or powerful I seemed, I was still alone.

I absolutely hated my life. Not that I didn’t already hate my life having lived a childhood with emotional and physical abuse, depression and many suicide attempts. Even now, things were not getting any better.  No matter which boyfriend I had, I still cried myself to sleep. It would be my scholarly interests that rescued me, well Something else in the form of scholarly interests….

In life, I desired to learn many languages. I failed at teaching myself Japanese, aced high-school Spanish then forgot it by lack of use, then vowed one winter in college to learn Latin- because it sounds cool. If one wants to hear Japanese, they head to Beni Hana, if it’s Spanish, drive to southwest Chicago, but to hear Latin, ye shall go to church!

My friend, Brad who was a devout Catholic, sometimes to my annoyance, and who I’d met during my senior year, took me to a Latin Mass. This is where encountering the past helps to realize the future. In a drafty cathedral unable to understand anything the minister said, I found God. He was there, hidden in …hoc est corpus meum and laid bare by those very words. I don’t mean to get weird, but it was amazing. My disdain for mainstream culture, unhappiness with hedonism and ancient longing finally found balance! And anyone who thinks goth and Catholic don’t mix ask yourself: Where does death find such beauty and light battle the darkness more than in the spilt blood of One Saving Victim?

I had always been open to supernatural experiences. I was one of those people who’d dabbled in witchcraft and could tell a house was haunted by standing outside of it. Church had never been an experience for me. I grew up going to this Evangelical church called Christian Hills in a wealthy part of town. No one there related to me and I had no friends not to mention a relationship with God was far from my mind. I had heard of a relationship with Jesus but believed myself unworthy of His love. Surely all the suffering I’d endured in life was a sigh He didn’t care for me?

I had only been to two Catholic services before the “awesome Latin Mass” in college. I thought it was kind of strange…all that ritualism and pomp. For some reason it took my love for a foreign language- or a certain supernatural openness to get it. Masses were boring until I had its meaning explained to me. Like always, I sought to understand…

I knew who Jesus was, I knew he died for our sins but I did not know He came down to be present in every Eucharist! I had no idea Catholic beliefs were different, that they believed they ate the real flesh and blood of Jesus Christ according to what He taught in John chapter 6. It didn’t disgust me, in fact it moved me in awe of His love.

When I saw that priest lift the wafer and say “hoc est corpus meum” I felt something special was going on. There was “shininess” to the air. That was the first time I felt…Him!

After leaving the mass I asked Brad if I could be “half Catholic” and it all was just beginning there.

Seeing as I was raised Evangelical Protestant, I knew well to ask Brad where various Catholic beliefs were in the Bible. He’d already shown me the place in John chapter 6 and parts of 1st Corinthians where the Bible described the Eucharist as Jesus’s real Body and Blood and it was a shocking thing for me:

What struck me the most is that Jesus not only loved us enough to die for each one of us but that he loves us enough to actually nourish us with his own flesh and blood.

When I found out that Jesus in the Bible actually says we are to eat his flesh and drink his blood and that Paul calls communion “a participation in the body and blood of Christ, I was overcome with awe and love for Jesus. I had to do something.

…but I wanted to know where the pope was, where all the love for Mary was… where was all the hierarchy… where everything was. It was as if I didn’t want to know any longer but as if I needed to know.

Late into the night, my Catholic friend and I would debate and talk as I pummeled him with questions. At the end of it all, blowing the dust from my Bible and beginning to closely read, I saw that Catholic beliefs were actually Bible based! Slowly, I would go over the Scriptures seeing that Jesus left us a church and left us what Catholics call the “deposit of faith”.  The Bible even mentioned bishops!

Not only was my knowledge of the Scripture affected but my prayer life. Previously, I only addressed God when I wanted something, to get out of trouble- now I was asking Him for things like “truth”. I would learn to pray all over again.

I am a sensible person, always been. Before I commit myself to anything, I investigate it. I needed knowledge and before I decided to attend any RCIA (Rite of Catholic Initiation for Adults- say it ten times fast) classes, I needed reassurance this was what God wanted me to do. I know you’re not supposed to but I asked Him for a sign. He gave me two:

One night, I had a dream about these people singing. They sang about something called “the black hat of the Holy Spirit.” That is strange to say the least. I told my Catholic friend (Brad) about this and he was insistent it had some deep meaning. Whatever… The next day, he asked me to go to the church and pray a rosary with him- this would be the third or fourth rosary I’ve ever said. I knew he liked company so I went. On the way back from the church, walking through an alley, we saw a black hat to the right of us. Not kidding. Brad cried out “The black hat of the Holy Spirit!” It was just too perfect to be a coincidence.

The next Sunday, I went to a night mass with him kind of hoping for a repeat of the godly feeling. During the opening hymn, watching the procession down the aisle, I suddenly wanted to cry. I had a feeling this was where I would finally be accepted, where I finally belonged. It was an overwhelming, heat and weepiness that came over me and I knew it wasn’t normal. Especially for someone like me who barely ever cried. So to RCIA I’d go.

The people there were very inviting (I supposed maybe-coverts got special treatment). I felt so discouraged though because they seemed to have their lives so together…while mine stayed in five hundred pieces. These people were sinners like me, they were struggling, maybe not as bad but still struggling. Some people are very unsure as to switch over religions. I was the type who jumped in remaining ever suspicious that someone would do something wrong…that God would break my heart.

Strange thing was, I couldn’t remain that way forever. It was the liturgical season of Lent and for some reason I loved it, going along, not eating meat on Fridays…acting like I was Catholic already. My logical conclusion is that nothing helps more than practice, I wanted to make sure I could handle this commitment and all that came with it.

For the first time in my life, it felt like I was doing something extra for God, not just honoring Him with my lips, but with my actions and sacrifice. Not that this was easy. Many times I wanted to tell Brad and the Catholics to leave me alone, not that they bothered me- I bothered me. I thought I’d be too selfish, too impious, too smutty to be a Catholic then reminded myself that a relationship with the Lord required work. That work I would have to do….but with the help of someone greater.

~~~
Easter, March 22nd was a night I will never forget. There I accepted Christ into my life. I chose as my patron Saint, Hildegard of Bingen, an abbess who lived in the 11th century when things were old and Medieval. She composed beautiful Latin hymns and was so outspoken to have words with a bishop when he was in error… My kind of lady.

I still remembered my first confession. I was nervous and had a list of sins over a page long, written in Latin to ensure my privacy. After getting it over with, I symbolically tore the paper into shreds and disposed of it. Then I stepped outside and felt sunshine on my face. The birds sang. I oddly felt so alive.

All had been leading to this moment when I approached the Bishop of Peoria who had a fatherly smile and looked kind of like Santa Claus, then was anointed into the Catholic Church. I swear people were purposely hugging me so they could smell the fragrant oil on my forehead. I must not forget Communion, receiving Christ as I never imagined before, present in that little wafer… humbling himself to be one with men…to know what being fully in submission to God meant.

It was epic, as if a long battle had been won, victory declared by the Risen Christ, alleluia!

Ad Majoren Gloriam Dei-

 

lux in tenebrae.

By:  Rachel Marie Gohlman

Easter.

Tall spires,

unshakable and made of grey stone.

Gilded blue and silver against the setting sun.

Gold and white,

the curtains of God’s palace.

His table made immaculate in order to invite the filthy.

Easter-tide alleluia,

lost amongst ecstasy.

Parting the darkness with long notes of the Gloria.

Colorless,

sanctified water and fragrant chrism.

They douse the head in order to give knowledge.

Knowledge,

O happy fault, which makes us saved- and me savable.

Faith, fidelity,

be one and the same. Unsurpassed by time.

Cloak my frail humanity in strength.

Divine light,

revelation of that, which is greater.

Drips and pours over my frame