Comment and Dialogue Articles

  • Divine reading or lectio divina: time with the Word of God

    Returning now to a survey of kinds of prayer, I am taking a look at “divine reading,” or, if you like the Latin expression, lectio divina. This is essentially a process of spending time with portions of the Bible. We may find it forbidding to contemplate a journey through the Scriptures. We may suppose that Biblical literature is so vast and varied that we cannot help but become utterly disoriented when we try to explore the literature on our own. Read More
  • Pilgrimage to Wichita: harvest of inspiration and hope

    As I mentioned last issue, some 65 “intentional disciples” from the Springfield diocese traveled to the Spiritual Life Center in Wichita, Kan., for a three-day conference/mini retreat on “Discipleship as a Way of Life.” In this issue, I asked another guest columnist, Carlos Tejeda, director of the diocesan Office for Marriage and Family Life in the Department for Vocational Services, to share his experiences of attending this great conference. Read More
  • Become the body of Christ, get involved in your parish

    When I lived in Alaska, I was an extraordinary minister of holy Communion to the homebound. Looking back, I’m rather amazed that I volunteered for this task, which often took me on ice-clogged roads that meandered haphazardly into the snowy hillsides of Anchorage. The years have turned me into a much more timid driver. Read More
  • Discovering true Christian stewardship in Wichita

    Discovering true Christian stewardship in Wichita Recently 65 “intentional disciples” from the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois traveled to the Spiritual Life Center in Wichita, Kan., for a three-day conference/mini retreat on “Discipleship as a Way of Life.” Our experience was truly amazing. Some of the Wichita diocese’s best and most committed “disciples” came to speak to us on stewardship and discipleship. Most of all we witnessed by their very presence how to live “Discipleship as a Way of Life.” You could see very clearly how the four pillars of hospitality, prayer, formation and service have become this way of life for these evangelizing disciples. It Read More
  • Respect Life Month: Be not afraid. We’re in this together

    Each October we observe Respect Life Month in dioceses around the United States. This year’s theme is “Be Not Afraid,” but of what, or whom, are we supposed to not be afraid? Pondering this question, I recalled an experience I had while attending the Convocation of Catholic Leaders in Orlando last summer. I met a young woman and her mother from my diocese. The daughter, who had an obvious disability and was using a power wheelchair, had been chosen as a delegate to the convocation; her mother, a college professor, was there as her assistant. Read More
  • The Catechism of the Catholic Church at 25

    John Paul II called the Extraordinary Synod of 1985 to assess what had gone right and what had gone wrong in two decades of implementing the Second Vatican Council. In Vaticanese, it was styled “extraordinary” because it fell outside the normal sequence of synods. But Synod-1985 was extraordinary in the ordinary sense of the word, too.  Read More
  • The Spirit within us allows history to happen

    In July, at my first meeting of the steering committee of the Metro-East Interfaith Partnership, a Baha’i member mentioned the Buckminster Fuller Center at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. On Aug. 31, I was in the Fuller Center for the first time, as I had been asked by the Newman Club at SIUE to hear confessions that evening. Fifty years ago, the geodesic dome, which Fuller patented in 1954, came into great prominence. The U.S. pavilion at Expo 67 in Montreal was one of the outstanding symbols of that World’s Fair. The SIUE dome was built under Fuller’s direction in 1971; Read More
  • Handing on the faith — discipleship in action

    Calhoun County is an amazing area which is filled with many strong stewards in our Catholic diocese. I was presider at five liturgies there while preaching the Good News and offering the invitation to grow deeper in the Lord’s call for us to become true “intentional disciples.” My first Mass was kind of unique. The Saturday 4 p.m. Mass at Kampsville was filled with many good folks, and so many came from many other parishes as this was the “earliest Mass option” in the area. A very nice man came to me and said, “Father, you probably won’t have servers. Read More
  • No matter what else, we all have talent to share

    Anyone who knows me knows of my love for music and my love for singing, which I developed at an early age. I do not have the gift of playing any instrument, but have been given a gift to use my voice to sing. I know many of you who are reading this have this same gift. As I write this article I have my mom close to my heart as today is the 15th anniversary of her death. One of my fondest memories was most every night around 5:30 our dinner was made and being warmed in the oven. Read More
  • Where are you, and where are you going?

    For a real conversion there is no need for long homilies on the world’s evil or the evils hidden in your life. Few words are enough for Jesus to change the direction of your steps … just one question to pierce your heart. This Gospel passage is illuminated by one simple question: “Where?” The question of every quest, every treasure hunt that kids play and we ourselves play whenever we lose something: a ring, our glasses, the direction of our life. Where? Where are you, and where are you going? To ask “where” is to enter a deeper awareness of Read More
  • Serviam: a Franciscan tradition in ‘T-Town’

    For many years Ursuline Academy in Springfield had as its motto Serviam, which is Latin for service (serve). A large part of the Christian formation of the UA students was centered on offering “service” in the church and the community. Often, in the sacrament of confirmation programs of formation for young adults, one of the important components is completing “service hours.” Often parents (not the youth) would ask if a certain task would be “counted” as falling under the umbrella of “Christian service.” Read More
  • What becoming a person of prayer requires

    Over the past 42 years since I entered the seminary, I have had plenty of occasions for considering what prayer is. I was instructed that a priest is a “man of prayer.” How to become such a person was less clear to me. I discovered, some years ago, a discussion of prayer which I have found eminently practical. The source was one of the Little Books of the Diocese of Saginaw, Michigan. People in many of the parishes of our diocese are familiar with this series which, perhaps most notably, takes us through the days of Lent and Easter with Read More
  • Think about it: he calls, he sends, he smiles

    I had the privilege to spend some quality time with the majority of our diocesan seminarians at a gathering at the Villa Maria Catholic Life Center a few weeks ago. I fully agree with our vocation director, Father Brian Alford, that our diocese is so blessed with the 24 seminarians (counting the transitional deacons) that God has called to discern becoming diocesan priests for the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. This is one of the finest groups of men I have ever seen for our diocese. They have a strong bond and support each other well. You may have met Read More
  • Once a cathedral … still filled with disciples

    One of our treasures in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois with a particularly unique history is the beautiful Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Alton. Our diocese was once known as the Diocese of Alton from 1857 to 1923. Ss. Peter and Paul were the patronal saints of that diocese, and this amazing parish church was the cathedral (or mother church) during these years. I was presiding recently at their weekend Masses, with a welcoming invitation from new pastor Father Jason Stone. At each of the three Masses I was blessed to be able to pray with a Read More
  • Baptism requires a special kind of preparation

    You might well imagine that, in the seminary, aspiring priests practice doing things like celebrating Mass and administering sacraments. And in fact, I engaged in such “practices” during my seminary years. You might also imagine that we carry out these “practices” with great solemnity. My answer: Not always! Read More
  • Always remember to just say this: ‘I am blest’

    When was the last time you truly felt blessed by God and maybe shared your true feelings with another person? Did your parents buy you a new car for your graduation? Did you sell your home after burying St. Joseph in the backyard? Did you get hired for the job you and nine others interviewed for? Did you marry the love of your life, and now 50 years later are still celebrating that love you felt when God united you as one? Was it when you held your first born for the first time in your hands? When do we Read More
  • Giving thanks for the bride and the groom

    Several weeks ago, I had the great good pleasure of presiding at the wedding of my niece, Bryna. She has been, all her life, a lovely girl, full of joy and good cheer — and eager to give herself in service to others. Her husband, Nelson, is also a fine person, and he took the courageous step of becoming a Catholic in anticipation of his wedding. So it was a joy to join my whole family in celebrating the coming-together of this splendid couple. Read More
  • Searching for our identity through work and prayer

    People talk a lot about prayer.  But what do we know or understand about prayer?  Do we, as believers, enjoy a sense of confidence about ourselves as praying people? In the seminary I was warned against saying — as many, apparently, were accustomed — “My work is my prayer.”  The priesthood I was preparing for certainly has its share of “workaholics.”  Indeed, numerous people tend to define themselves by their work.  Read More
  • 100 years of living - celebrating a Catholic servant

    100 years of living - celebrating a Catholic servant Back in 1997 Bishop Daniel Ryan called me and asked if I would become the parochial administrator at St. Rose of Lima Parish in Quincy. He shared with me that the long-time pastor, Father Francis Damien Lee, was in the hospital and would not be able to return to his pastoral duties at St. Rose and would retire. I arrived on the scene sometime around July 1 of that year and the parish had no staff at all. I began to celebrate daily Mass at the parish and met a few folks that first week. At most we had about Read More
  • ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’

    I don’t know if this happens to you, but in prayer I often wonder whether the Lord feels loved by me ... and I seem to find myself in a similar situation as Peter when our risen Lord appeared to him on the shore of Lake Tiberias and asked him this inconvenient question: “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” In order to answer this question, we must go back to the scene of the Last Supper, when Jesus announced that his Disciples would be scandalized by that night, and for this reason, they would abandon him. Matthew tells us Read More
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