Future Priests of the Third Millennium

A little insight into the life of seminarians from various dioceses preparing for ministry as Roman Catholic priests, including daily activities, personal interests, special events, the spiritual life, news from the seminary, and almost whatever comes to our minds!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Great Popes

There is something soothing to the soul about reading what the "Great" popes of our Church have written or sermonized about in times gone by. I am always delighted when an excerpt from something they said or wrote comes around in the daily Office of the Readings. Yesterday and last Friday we heard from two "Great" popes from the Patristic era of the Church: St. Leo the Great and St. Gregory the Great. Both Great in thier own right, Leo was pope from 440-461 AD and Gregory from 590-604.

Both steering the helm of the Church in less than ideal times with the crumbling of the Roman Empire and the entrance of the Church into the Middle Ages. Leo was a unifier and protector against the Huns and Gregory was a bridge between the Fathers and the Medievals. Perhaps their profound influence on the Church is what makes their words relevant even today. What they had to say about the Church and Christian life strikes a chord that resounds in the deepest recesses of the heart. We all remember almost a year ago when our beloved John Paul II went on to his reward and immediately the title was also applied to him. There seems to be something profound said about the man when the people of God use the title "Great."

Here's a bit of what came up yesterday from St. Leo about charity: "Any time is the right time for works of charity, but these days of Lent provide a special encouragement. Those who want to be present at the Lord's Passover in holiness of mind and body should seek above all to win this grace, for charity contains all other virtues and covers a multitude of sins" (Sermo 10 in Quadragesima, 3-5: PL 54, 299-301) Pages 295-6 of Vol. II of the LOH.

Or how about what St. Gregory said on Friday in his Moral Reflections on Job: "If the sacrament of the Lord's passion is to work its effect in us, we must imitate what we recieve and proclaim to mankind what we revere. The cry of the Lord finds a hiding place in us if our lips fail to speak this, though our hearts believe in it" (Lib. 13, 21-23: PL 75, 1028-1029) Pages 257-9 of Vol. II of the LOH.

March Madness and Christianity?

During Spring Break, I was able to catch the UConn vs. Washington game. Quite a game, in my opinion. Then, I heard the shocking news that #11 seed George Mason beat #1 seed UConn in the round of the Elite Eight! What the heck!!!

At dinner afterwards, someone had made the comment that in a certain sense, Christianity is the perennial underdog in our present-day world. Without over spiritualizing the image, we talked about how the Church always seems to find itself entrenched in some kind of struggle ... ala David and Goliath ... where it would seem that there is no way for the underdog to be victorious. One need not think very long and hard to find examples of this in today's world news. In each situation, the victor is not the one with the strongest muscles, the most advanced technology, the well-trained soldiers. Rather, the victor tends to be the one who finds themselves facing insurmountable odds. There is no other recourse for them than to turn to God for some help. And in each time, God pulls through. Not saying here that God wanted GM to beat UConn ... though some might think that. But rather, like it says, "God is close to those who call on Him," (cf. Ps 145: 18; Dt 4: 7).

Who'da thunk that we could learn a little something from a basketball game?

Friday, March 24, 2006

Sprung Break

Spring break has sprung, and the house is mostly empty.
Those who remain are busily working on mid-term projects or catching up on the latest episodes of Lost.
I myself am busily preparing for some final projects because I am a nerd.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Ah, the end of the week

TGIF!! Thanks goodness its Friday! What a week we have had! Of course, for many of the men in the house, since this was midterm week, there were many tests to take and papers to be written. However, this was not the case for me. I was very blessed to have a relatively light week. For whatever reason, all of my tests are falling in the two weeks after spring break instead. Oh well, so is life.

The snow we got this week as absolutely wonderful! Winter in Minnesota can be really dull when they are as wimpy as they have been the last few years. During those winters, not only is it cold, but sort of ugly as well. The snow really beautifies the place. We've been living in a winter wonderland all week. We went from 60 degrees and sunny a week ago, to a foot of snow or more on the ground and temperatures below freezing! Oh, how I love this state!

Happy St. Patrick's Day to you all! St. Patrick...ora pro nobis!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Let the Mayhem begin....

No, I'm not talking about midterm exams. And I'm not talking about Spring Break. Now that we've safely passed the Ides of March, it's time for that phenomenon known as March Mardness, or more accurately, the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. The country's top sixty-five teams playing a total of sixty-four games in just under three weeks. Talk about adrenaline.

This year, eighteen brave souls have entered the SPS bracket in the hopes of bringing home the hardware (and, more importantly, some bragging rights). Teams in my Final Four are as follows: Texas, Memphis, Connecticut and Florida. And, just like nearly everyone else with a pulse, I've chosen UConn to win it all. This, of course, goes against every rule of Bracketology, but since neither the Irish nor the Gophers are in the field this year, I'm simply going with the flow.

If you need a T.O., best take it now. When that opening whistles blows, you've got to be ready to play. Only with enough courage, heart, and stamina can you hope to make. See you at the Finish Line.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Followup to Da Vinci Code

The USCCB Office of Media Relations recently released a statement regarding the Da Vinci code. They annoucned the release of a website, www.jesusdecoded.com, in orde "to provide accurate information on Jesus, Catholic teaching, and various topics explored in The Da Vinci Code. The Web site will explain Catholic beliefs and include articles from theologians, media commentators, art experts and others that provide background and also rebut the speculation and inaccuracies about Christ and the origins of Christianity. Contributing to the Web site is the prelature of Opus Dei."

Perhaps something good is coming out of this!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Snow Day?

What is the deal with snow days? Where is our stubborn Minnesota pride? Whatever happened to "neither rain, nor snow, nor dark of night..."? We should rise up against this perfidious white menace and declare that no precipitation will keep us down.

This is what I thought this morning before I wiped out on the way to the Binz.

Now, Yay snow!

Future Priests of the Third Millennium

Snow Day!!

For the first time since I have been here at the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity all classes have been formally cancelled due to a snow storm. Needless to say, there is excitement in the house that is reminiscient of my childhood when we would often be granted several per year. Perhaps the excitement is on account of nothing more than a sudden change in scheduling and a divergence from the status quo for a day. Whatever the reason, it is a nice day to just stay inside and look out at the heavy March snow instantly stick and accumulate on everything it lands. Perhaps a good day for some beautiful winter photos.

Along similar lines, but not really...

The seminary hosted The Rose Ensemble in our chapel last night. I will preface this by saying that it seems like everybody else thought they were wonderful, beautiful, moving, inspirational, and all that. They received a very strong applause, so I am obviously in the minority here.

I must admit, the music was beautiful, and it was nice to see someone appreciating the Catholic contribution to culture in history. After about twenty minutes of these beautiful prayers, though, I was looking for the guys in yellow and blue shirts to order a hot dog and a cherry coke. I realized too late that I was committed to another half hour of this beautiful music, though. Actually, it wasn't that bad, but much like the unbelievers in the Gospels who encounter Jesus, their Lord and Savior, and true beauty...and then continue going about their daily lives...that's me in my encounter of this music.

Actually, because I am an uncultured brute (I admit it), I really don't understand this exalted status that classical music, etc. has. I know half the seminary is musically trained and will disagree with me, but what can you do. To me, these people had wonderful voices and the music was beautiful, but it's no different than LeBron James training his muscles, mind, and body to be a great basketball player. It is just as beautiful to watch James make someone fall over trying to guard him as it is to hear this music. These people trained their vocal muscles, diaphragm, etc. and so produce beautiful music. We're happy for them. It's beautiful. But give me a pizza, coke (or do I need to say Pepsi to satisfy our corporate sponsors?), and some R&B, and life is good.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Culture and the Arts

When did it become such that culture influences the portrayal of art? Was there not a time when it was the other way around ... that art was a source of culture, not a reflection of it?

This afternoon, I went to the opera with two fellow seminarians. The music itself was magnificent. The sound of a full orchestra under the skillful direction of a conductor ... the sound of well-trained singers ... it all brought me back to the days as a music major in college. But the stage production and blocking of the actors seemed to communicate a hidden agenda. It seemed as though there was an increased portrayal of sensuality which was more bordered on the erotic. There was a confused depiction of the struggle between good and evil. There was a lack of heroism in the main characters that once inspired audience-goers towards higher ideals. Rather, the production seemed to reflect the prevalent sociological trends of our contemporary society ... one that exalts alternative lifestyles as normative, one that does not promote magnanimity, one that debases the true beauty of women. All this packed into a three hour opera!

I walked away from the opera house a little dejected about the state of the arts in our society. However, I was reminded that the late Pope John Paul II wrote a Letter to Artists in 1999 whereby he exhorts those with artistic gifts to communicate beauty through their medium that connects us with the transcendent Beauty whom we call God! It seems as though this work is highly influenced by a theologian named Has Urs Von Balthsar who has written extensively on the revelation of love as beauty. His voluminous work, Theo-asthetics, is a detailed explanation of how beauty is an analagous encounter with the Triune God.

As soon as I've got some free time on my hands, I'd love to read these! Someday .....

Saturday, March 11, 2006

On the lowercase omega

Apparently the lowercase omega is fairly common in Christian symbolism. After some Google searches I still have been unable to determine whether the usage of the lowercase as opposed to the uppercase is significant. Perhaps it is a matter of personal taste. Or perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the lowercase omega has three "prongs" (for lack of a better word). This could be a representation of the Trinity. The mystery continues...

Have you seen me?

We have come across a report of an unusal sighting here at the seminary -- a lower case omega. If there are any other sightings, please report them immediately to the proper authorities for further investigation.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Ooh! My first blog attempt!

Since it is Lent, I shall type my very first blog entry in a penitential purple. I was told that hyperlinks are good, so here's one for you. I hear links to Wikipedia can be especially useful.

God bless you!

Caveat blogger!

Bloggers beware,

I too have joined in the fray.

Today's house morale is: high
- Sweet and Sour Chicken Club met for dinner, all were satiated.

102 days until my brother Aaron's ordination. Deo Gratias!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

the Seminarian seminarian

Last week, we had the privilege of receiving the Apostolic Visitation team, led by Archbishop Sean O'Malley from Boston. This was an official visit from the Congregation for Education, who oversees, among other things, the formation of seminarians for priestly ministry in the world. We were blessed in a unique way to have in our company Archbishop O'Malley who was designated a cardinal during his week-long stay with us by Pope Benedict XVI.

The Visitation Team's focus was to examine all the areas of priestly formation here at the semianry, focusing around the pillars of Human, Spiritual, Intellectual and Pastoral programs. By the week's end, the busy team left our seminary with good hope about the program here. A report was drawn by the team and then immediately forwarded to the Congregation for Education in Rome for review. Without revealing the specific contents of the report, Archbishop O'Malley was pleased and somewhat refreshed to have spent 5 days with us. Though not without our faults, Archbishop O'Malley and the team enjoyed the fellowship of the entire staff, facutly and students during celebrations of the Eucharist and at meals.

All in all, a good week here at the seminary.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

the Social seminarian

Last night, I attended the Saint Paul's Outreach Fundraiser Banquet. They celebrated 20 years of bringing young adults into the life of Christian discipcleship. My own life has been affected by this ministry. I lived in an SPO household in the Fall of 2000 when I moved to the Twin Cities from Los Angeles. With the job I had as the new Assistant Youth Director at a local parish, I had difficulties honoring household committments. So I made the decision at there was a conflict of interests, but I still believed in the ideal of living in a Christian household with other men who are pursuing a life of Christian discipleship.

When, a few years later, I made the decision to enter the seminary, I had known about a group of diocesan clergy here, the Companions of Christ, who have the same roots as SPO. These are a group of men who live in household, builing a common Christian life together as priests in active ministry. I knew right away that this was the chance for me to finally do what I was not able to do before. Though my time in household was a short one, I manitained many friendships with the men and women from SPO. Some have become my closest friends. We look forward to getting together for "family time" as often as our busy schedules allow.

This is one of the things that I learned through SPO. There is a unique bond that is forged among those who pursue Christ closely, not just admire Him from a distance. This is one of the reasons why I think SPO is such a potent witness on university campuses. There is something palpably Christian about them, different than what I have encountered from others. I think that they have a good handle on the notion of evangelization: their lives have been personally and deeply touched by Jesus Christ such that in their ministry, people listen "... more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if [they] listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses." (cf. Pope Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, 41.)