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August 2023 Newsletter

Men of Signum Crucis, happy Feast of St. John Vianney! I will refer to St. John

Vianney a little later in the newsletter, but, in the meantime, please read on.

Thank You!

First, I would like to thank Father Anthony Viviano for leading our discussion on the Miraculous Medal in July. It was a record turnout, with over 80 men learning about the history of and devotion to the Miraculous Medal, including the appearances of the Blessed Virgin Mother to St. Catherine Labouré. Thank you, Father Viviano, for your stellar presentation and encouragement to the men gathered in the St. Pius X Chapel that evening.

August Gathering

Men, I hope you have marked your calendars for our next gathering, August 16, which will be a Study/Devotion piece regarding the history and devotion of the Brown Scapular. The Brown Scapular is considered by many to be a companion devotion to the Miraculous Medal. Once again, we are excited to bring yet another exceptional presenter to the St. Pius X Chapel. 2nd Lieutenant Jacob Ceglenski, a 2018 graduate of Helias Catholic and a 2021 graduate of the Marine Officer Candidate School, will be our presenter. I hope you will take advantage of the opportunity to hear from one of the best young men in the area regarding the history of and his devotion to and enrollment in the Brown Scapular, and thank him for his service to our country. Jacob will report to Quantico, Virginia in October.

As I have mentioned previously, one of our men has offered to provide a Brown Scapular and two Miraculous Medals to each man of Signum Crucis–one medal for the member, and the other to give away. These medals contain a minimum of .1 ounce of silver, so there is monetary value to the medals. Notwithstanding, we know that the spiritual value of any medal by far exceeds any monetary value, but I wanted you to know in advance that we are in gratitude to the man of Signum Crucis who is providing these “precious medals.”

In September, all men present will receive the two medals, and also any men who wish to be enrolled in the wearing of and devotion of the Brown Scapular will receive their own Brown Scapular and can be enrolled that evening, in conjunction with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass that will mark the first anniversary of the Men of Signum Crucis.

Why is Study Important?

I recall when I entered Kenrick Theological Seminary in the fall of 1981, I felt overwhelmed with some of the classes that I was required to take. I’ll never forget the depth of what then Father (now Bishop) Michael Sheridan was trying to teach us by way of theologian Karl Rahner. I had taken a fair amount of theology in college seminary, but nothing to that level. I remember looking around the classroom at the other guys who always seemed to be nodding their heads, indicating complete understanding, and I, on the other hand, wondering how this level of theology could ever assist a parish priest.

Why do I share this embarrassing story?

Two reasons: St. John Vianney and the Men of Signum Crucis motto:

“Fraternity through Study, Devotion, and Service.”

Have you ever felt that someone was talking over your head when explaining a concept? Do you ever think, “Boy, I might be able to understand what he or she is talking about if I just knew what those words mean”? I have told my students many times in the Theology classroom that we might need to hear some new vocabulary several times used in several different ways before we can fully understand them. For instance, did you immediately know what the words “incarnate,” “consubstantial,” “paschal,” or “Trinity” meant when you first heard them? Maybe it took a few times before you began to understand–or, if you’re like me, maybe you’re still working to better understand them, because I am always amazed that God cares so much for us, and there's always another layer of the onion to peel away to reveal even more about his nature.

Hence, the need for continued Study.

I have found that the more my Study has produced a little more knowledge (of God), the more devoted to God (and my faith) I become–because, how can one not respond to the immensity of God’s love for us? For example, when I study the Passion of Jesus Christ and understand that he could have avoided all the suffering he endured and still redeemed us (after all, he is God, and therefore he could redeem us however he wanted to), how can I not become more in awe and devoted to him? Then, as my devotion increases, I realize that I ought to know more about a God who loves us that much, and I begin to focus on Study once again. You can see that over a lifetime, the overlapping, ascending stairways of Study and Devotion take us to the places we are today in our faith–only to realize that we don’t know what we don’t know, so there are more layers of the onion yet to be peeled away.

Hence, Study leads to Devotion, which leads to Study, which leads to Devotion, which leads to a (hopefully) never-ending growth in our faith that becomes evident to those around us.

This is how we build the Body of Christ, and the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth.

St. John Vianney

Now, what about St. John Vianney? Apparently, his first semester in seminary was a lot like my first semester at Kenrick–but he struggled in all subjects (especially Latin), and barely made it to ordination. Some say that he was ordained only because many of the good priests had been killed during the French Revolution and the need for priests was so great. After ordination, he was first the Assistant Pastor under the priest who had helped him through the seminary. After the death of that priest, the bishop sent Father Vianney to Ars, France, a small town of people who had fallen away from their faith, with little hope that he would be able to do more than just say daily Mass and satisfy the needs of the few who were yet faithful.

Instead, the Curé of Ars (“Curé” means parish priest) slowly over time won over the town (and the region and country of France) by his Devotion to God. You see, he was not wise in the ways of mathematics, or writing, or Latin, or even Theology, but was very wise in the way of loving God above all and reading people’s hearts.

The story goes that in his last 10 years of priesthood, St. John Vianney would hear confession 16-18 hours every day. People from all around Europe would stand in line for hours to have their confession heard by this priest who was so devoted to God. Penitents were amazed by his ability to read their hearts and know whether they were being truthful in their confessions. The Curé of Ars was canonized in 1925, and in 1929 he was named the patron saint of parish priests.

So, What Can We Do for our Parish Priests Today?

On this special day for our parish priests, what can we Men of Signum Crucis do for them? Shouldn’t we men do something special from time to time for the men that we look up to, to those men who are living heroic lives, following in the footsteps of the Curé of Ars? Are you thinking, “But, what could I ever do or get for a parish priest that he might appreciate?” Well, you’re in luck. Click here to access a list of ten very practical things that parish priests would love to have, courtesy of Exodus 90. This list is based on a survey of priests, so I think there are some great suggestions in the list. I hope this is useful to you as you think, and pray, and perhaps communicate with your parish priest today–because Men of Signum Crucis, we more than anyone must stand up for our heroic priests.

Prayers Requested for Two Men of Signum Crucis

Men, I am aware of two Men of Signum Crucis in need of our prayers right now. First, one of our men, Mark McDonald is in Lourdes, France at this very time with family, who are praying for healing from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy that has plagued him all his life. Mark is in Lourdes from Aug. 3-7, but prayers are especially appropriate today, August 4, between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m., which is roughly the time that Mark will be in a healing service at Lourdes. His parish, St. Martin’s, is having a special Mass and Adoration time at the Church during this time, so if you are reading this newsletter before then and have the opportunity, please join in prayer there.

Second, I am aware that fellow Man of Signum Crucis and a leading (in my opinion) member of my Cursillo group, Pete Nacy, is struggling mightily with cancer that he has been battling over the past 6-8 months. Let us all pray for Pete during this time of difficulty for him and his family.

St. John Vianney, Curé of Ars, pray for Mark and Pete!

Eucharistic Revival

Men, I have another interview by Al Kresta to share with you this month, this one on the Eucharist. In this segment that was aired live on our Catholic Radio stations on July 27, Al Kresta interviews Dr. Timothy O’Malley, a professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame, and they discuss some of the misconceptions of the Eucharist and Adoration that have resulted in only a minority of self-professed Catholics believing in the Real Presence. Here is the link.

I think any Study of the Eucharist is vital, especially as the United States ramps up to the conclusion of the two-year Eucharistic Revival in Indianapolis in July 2024. Because of this, you can expect to hear more on the topic of Eucharist in our Study and Devotion in the near future.

Help Needed for Ladies’ Retreat in October

Men, I have written and spoken a few times recently about the Diocesan Women’s Retreat on October 6 and 7 this fall. I have assured Barb Prasad, the Diocesan Women’s Advocate,that we will have all the manpower she needs to staff the registration desk and help serve the meals at their retreat. It will be held at the Cathedral.

To sign up to help during the Ladies’ Retreat, click here to volunteer via a Google Form. The needs are:

  • Friday, October 6: Ten (10) men between 5:30 p.m. and 7:45 p.m.

  • Saturday, October 7: Three (3) men between 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

  • Saturday, October 7: Five (5) men for lunch hospitality between 11:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.

In Conclusion...

Men, I hope to see you on August 16 for our presentation by 2nd Lieutenant Jacob Ceglenski. Our evening will officially begin at 6:30 p.m. in the St. Pius X Chapel at Helias, with an optional Rosary at 6:00 p.m. in the Chapel. Please come, and bring (another) son, father, brother, uncle, or friend. Afterwards, we will enjoy fraternity and refreshments in the Commons.

By the way, I did survive that first semester at Kenrick Theological Seminary through the grace of God, and also the following three semesters. With four semesters yet to go, I discerned away from priestly studies, but I have never lost my desire to know more about God and my faith through Study (and to increase my Devotion to God and my faith as well).

Men, thank you for your fidelity to the Men of Signum Crucis.

And, let us never forget: St. Joseph “chose hard.” Let’s choose to do the same.

St. Joseph, Foster Father of the Son of God, and patron saint of the Men of Signum Crucis, pray for us.

In hoc signo, vinces,

Mark Rehagen

Future Gatherings:

  • August 16, 2023 (Brown Scapular Study/Devotion)

  • September 20, 2023 (Optional Enrollment in the Brown Scapular and the Celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass)

  • October 18, 2023

  • November 15, 2023



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