Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Hello all

I'm still alive. Mid-May though mid-June I was on an extended spiritual retreat at St. Mary's and for the last week or so I've been assigned to a couple parishes in Louisville (in a rectory without my own Internet access) so I haven't been able to post in a while.

I hope to post more soon...

Monday, June 05, 2006

Louisville Ordinations

The weekend before last, it was a great joy of mine to be a part of the ordination of two Deacons to the Holy Priesthood for the Archdiocese of Louisville. It was a hectic trip tho! Flying home, I couldn't get on the plane because they oversold it (but I was compensated). I was put on standby for the next flight and, thankfully, I was able to get on. That was a miracle because it was Memorial Day weekend and every other flight that day on every other airline that flies out of BWI was booked solid.

Flying back, my plane was delayed three times. I should have arrived in Baltimore at 9:30pm but didn't arrive till 1:45am.

But anyway, it was an honor to be a part of the ordination Mass; I was the crossbearer. I also had a fun time staying with my d.b., Mike, at the Cathedral Rectory. The whole weekend made me want to be a priest, like, tomorrow.

Here's a pic of me in the Courier-Journal pretending to be a Swiss Guard before the Mass:

Matt Hardesty, right, and Christopher Rhodes, both Catholic seminarians, stand at the front of the Cathedral of the Assumption prior to the start of the ordination ceremonies. "It's a great honor to be a part of this," Hardesty said. "It definitely strengthens my discernment and my hope for the future."

For More:

A Photo Gallery, from the C-J, of the Ordination
An article from the C-J: "Fathers Find Their Second Calling"
An article from The Record on Fr. Wally Dant: "Deacon Dant lived full life before entering the seminary"
An article from The Record on Fr. Jeffrey Hopper: "Deacon Jeffrey Hopper eager to serve, celebrate Eucharist"
I love what Fr. Hopper says here:
“What I’m looking forward to the most is offering the sacrifice of the Mass and doing the pastoral duties of a priest — hearing confession, visiting the hospital, going to the school with the kids”

my Record article

Here's my recent article in Louisville's archdiocesan newspaper, The Record:

Young Adult Life
Young seminarian offers a reflection on his first year of studies
Matthew Hardesty
Guest Columnist

“Be renewed in the spirit of your mind: And put on the new man, who according to God is created in justice and holiness of truth.” (Ephesians 4:23-24)

The Record, May 24, 2006 -

I have been thinking much about this particular verse in Scripture as I approach the end of my first year of seminary at St. Mary Seminary and University in Baltimore.

Benedictine Abbot Lambert Reilly, former archabbot of St. Meinrad Archabbey in Indiana, translates the first part of this passage to say, “Your inmost being must be renewed.” Certainly, deep and profound change must occur in a young man from the time he enters seminary to the time, God willing, he is ordained. I would like to share with you some thoughts on my first year of this formation.

Much has happened since I last wrote in this space about my initial reactions to seminary. I am now more confident in life at the seminary and have grown accustomed to the daily routine of prayer and classes. During my second semester I have taken the second half of introduction to Catholic theology, philosophical ethics, Latin I, introduction to Scripture, history of philosophy II and metaphysics.

Philosophy has been stimulating but also challenging as it prepares me for theological studies. But life at St. Mary’s has not been totally consumed with classes. There have been many other experiences throughout the year that have contributed to my overall growth.

I have been able to pray twice a month with other seminarians at the local abortion clinic to practice the theological virtues that we learn about in class. And going to the March for Life in Washington, D.C., in January, with the entire seminary community, was a wonderful opportunity to witness with others to the Gospel of life on a broad scale.

My “pastoral placement” has also brought me much fulfillment. Three other seminarians and I develop the necessary pastoral skills we will need to serve the people of God by tutoring inner-city adults, young and old, who are studying for the general education development (G.E.D.) test. Their motivation and initiative are inspirational.

I am glad to be able to share the gifts that the Lord has given me, and am honored to listen to the many different stories of those who have decided to change their lives, with the G.E.D. as a first step to making this happen. Our study sessions have also given me the opportunity to practice sharing my faith with others in many different ways.

For me, perhaps the most important experiences have been the various liturgies that I have participated in. There have been large Masses, such as the Vigil Mass for Life before the march in Washington and the Mass celebrating the 50 years of priesthood and 25 years of episcopacy of Baltimore’s Cardinal William Keeler.

Being able to attend smaller Masses at different parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Baltimore has given me a greater appreciation for the universality and diversity of the Catholic church. The daily liturgies at St. Mary’s also have given me the spiritual nourishment I need to continue in formation and to grow in holiness.

Receiving the Ministry of Lector, making me an “official” reader at Mass, has been a tremendous blessing. Serving at different parishes in Louisville during Christmas and Easter breaks also has brought me closer to the altar and given me a taste for what God holds for me in the future.

Your prayers and support have helped me tremendously, as have your letters and cards, such as those from the students at Immaculate Conception in LaGrange, Ky. They bring me much joy.

This summer I will be staying in the rectory at St. Rita Church on Preston Highway and working with Father Robert Ray at St. Jerome Church in Fairdale, Ky., and St. Mary Church in Bullitt County. Please pray for me as I enter this next step in my formation, that through Mary’s intercession I might grow “in justice and holiness of truth.”

Matthew Hardesty is a young adult seminarian at St. Mary Seminary and University in Baltimore.

Sunday, June 04, 2006


Last weekend: Awesome Louisville ordination... I'll post articles and pics soon

This past weekend: Project Rachel retreat in the Diocese of Raleigh, N.C.... one of the most powerful things I've ever experienced in my entire life... totally strengthened my vocation... I'll write more later...

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Pope thanks Mary for her protection

VATICAN CITY, JUN 1, 2006 (VIS) - At 8 p.m. yesterday, the traditional procession marking the end of the month of May wound its way from the Church of St. Stephen of the Abyssinians - located near the apse of the Vatican Basilica - to the Grotto of Lourdes in the Vatican Gardens. Hundreds of people participated in the ceremony, which was presided by Archbishop Angelo Comastri, His Holiness' vicar general for Vatican City State.

Benedict XVI arrived at the Grotto at 9 p.m. and, before imparting his apostolic blessing, delivered a brief address.

The Pope first recalled how this year the month of May was "characterized by the arrival of the image of the Virgin of Fatima in St. Peter's Square on the 25th anniversary of the assassination attempt against the beloved John Paul II, and also by my apostolic trip ... to Poland, where I was able to visit the places dear to my great predecessor."

At the Shrine of Jasna Gora in Czestochowa, he said, "I understood how much our celestial Protectress accompanies her children's journey, and does not disregard supplications addressed to her with humility and faith. Once again, together with you, I wish to thank her for having accompanied me during my visit to the dear land of Poland. I also wish to express my gratitude to Mary for her support in my daily service to the Church. I know I can rely on her help in all situations, indeed I know that she, with maternal intuition, meets all her children's needs and intervenes effectively in their support."

Benedict XVI then highlighted how in the Virgin Mary's visit to her cousin Elizabeth - which the Church celebrates today as the Feast of the Visitation of Mary - "the hidden protagonist is Jesus. Mary carried Him in her womb as in a sacred tabernacle. ... Wherever Mary goes, there is Jesus."

"May true Marian devotion never obscure or diminish faith and love for Jesus Christ, our Savior, the only mediator between God and man. ... Let us, then, entrust ourselves to her with filial devotion."

The Pope concluded his address by asking the faithful to pray especially for the forthcoming vigil in St. Peter's Square on Saturday, June 3, when he will meet with new lay movements and communities "those promising groups that have blossomed in the Church following Vatican Council II."

Mary, the school of faith

VATICAN CITY, MAY 26, 2006 (VIS) - At 5.15 p.m. today, Benedict XVI arrived by helicopter at the Polish city of Czestochowa to visit the Shrine of the Virgin of Jasna Gora, Poland's most famous Marian shrine, where John Paul II confided his pontificate to the Mother of God.

The image of the Virgin of Jasna Gora is decked with new vestments, in fulfillment of a vow to mark the 350th anniversary of the defense of her shrine against Swedish troops by Fr. Augustin Kordecki, and as an expression of gratitude for the life of John Paul II on the 25th anniversary of the birth of the "Solidarnosc" trade union. The image's golden crowns were blessed and offered by John Paul II on April 1 2005, the eve of his death.

At 6 p.m., having visited the convent of the shrine, which is under the care of the Pauline Fathers, the Holy Father met with religious, seminarians and representatives from Catholic movements and institutes of consecrated life.

In his address to the them, Pope Benedict began by affirming that "Mary, the Mother of the Lord, is among us. Today it is she who leads our meditation; she teaches us how to pray. Mary shows us how to open our minds and our hearts to the power of the Holy Spirit, Who comes to us so as to be brought to the whole world."

"Mary sustained the faith of Peter and the Apostles in the Upper Room, and today she sustains my faith and yours," said the Pope. "Faith is contact with the mystery of God. ... It is the gift, given to us in Baptism, which makes our encounter with God possible. God is hidden in mystery; to claim to understand Him would mean to want to confine Him within our thinking and knowing, and consequently to lose Him irremediably. With faith, however, we can open up a way through concepts, even theological concepts, and can 'touch' the living God."

"In the Upper Room the Apostles did not know what awaited them. They were afraid and worried about their own future. ... Mary, 'she who believed in the fulfillment of the Lord's words,' ... taught perseverance in the faith. By her own attitude she convinced them that the Holy Spirit, in His wisdom, knew well the path on which He was leading them, and that consequently they could place their confidence in God."

"Many of you here present have experienced this secret call of the Holy Spirit and have responded. ... It was Jesus who called you, inviting you to a more profound union with Him."

"Do you remember," the Holy Father asked the religious, "your enthusiasm when you began the pilgrimage of the consecrated life, trusting in the grace of God? Try not to lose this first fervor, and let Mary lead you to an ever fuller adherence."

He cried: "Dear men and women religious, dear consecrated persons! Whatever the mission entrusted to you, ... maintain in your hearts the primacy of your consecrated life" which, "lived in faith, unites you closely to God, calls forth charisms and confers an extraordinary fruitfulness to your service."

Turning to address seminarians, the Pope recommended they reflect "on the way Mary learned from Jesus! From her very first 'fiat,' through the long, ordinary years of the hidden life, as she brought up Jesus, ... she 'learned' Him moment by moment. ... On your journey of preparation, and in your future priestly ministry, let Mary guide you as you 'learn' Jesus. Keep your eyes fixed on Him. Let Him form you, so that in your ministry you will be able to show Him to all who approach you."

"The vitality of your communities," Benedict XVI told representatives of the new movements in the Church, "is a sign of the Holy Spirit's active presence! It is from the faith of the Church and from the richness of the fruits of the Holy Spirit that your mission has been born. ... Believe in the grace of God which accompanies you and bring it into the living fabric of the Church, especially in places the priest or religious cannot reach."

"You are nourished," he continued, "by different schools of spirituality recognized by the Church. Draw upon the wisdom of the saints, have recourse to the heritage they have left us. Form your minds and your hearts on the works of the great masters and witnesses of the faith, knowing that the schools of spirituality must not be a treasure locked up in convents or libraries.

"The Gospel wisdom, contained in the writings of the great saints and attested to in their lives, must be brought in a mature way, not childishly or aggressively, to the world of culture and work, to the world of the media and politics. ... The authenticity of your faith and mission, which does not draw attention to itself but truly radiates faith and love, can be tested by measuring it against Mary's faith. ... Remain in her school!"

"God is love," the Holy Father concluded, "These were the words that I placed at the beginning of the first Encyclical of my pontificate. ... This is the most important, most central truth about God. To all for whom it is difficult to believe in God, I say again today: 'God is love.' Dear friends, be witnesses to this truth."

At the end of the meeting, Benedict XVI returned by helicopter to Krakow where, after dinner, he appeared at the balcony of the archbishop's palace to greet people gathered in the street below, following a custom of John Paul II when he visited Krakow.

"I know," he told them, "that on the second of each month, at the time my beloved predecessor died, you meet here to commemorate him and pray for his elevation to the honors of the altar. May this prayer be of support to those who concern themselves with his cause [of beatification] and enrich your hearts with grace."

"Despite his death, he - young in God - is among us, he invites us to reinvigorate the grace of faith and renew ourselves in the Spirit."