Greetings to all from sunny Rome!
It seems that I am still a part of the SPS blog despite my alumni status, so I thought I would spice things up with an update from my new residence in the eternal city. Here at the Pontifical North American College life is rather chaotic, as the house is preparing to welcome the families of the 27 American and Australian seminarians to be ordained deacons on Thursday. Classes begin for us next monday, so in the meantime I will be continuing my study of the italian language and getting out to see a bit more of the city.
I miss you all dearly. I hear good things are happening at SPS, and I wish I could be there to share them with you all. Keep the faith, and continue striving to inspire others as we have been inspired.
Peace in Christ,
Saturday, September 30, 2006
Greetings to all from sunny Rome!
9/30/2006 05:24:00 PM
Friday, September 29, 2006
Some of you may recall the Friday Gospel reading from a couple of weeks ago wherein the "Holy Women" who followed Jesus and cared for his material needs were described. I happened to be serving Mass that day with a teenaged girl from a large family, and joked, “Perhaps, if you don’t become a religious sister, you can be a holy woman and care for priests.”
While it may be easy to skip over this short passage from the Gospels, or to make jokes about it, the truth of the matter is that much of the work of the Church is accomplished by the various “holy women” of every generation. Time and again, I am struck when I realize that the success of my endeavors comes not from my own effort, but as a result of the prayers of the women who make daily visits to the Blessed Sacrament, or who offer their daily Rosaries for me. My Director of Vocations often comments that when we (priests and seminarians) arrive in heaven, we will be shocked to learn how little we prayed when compared to the prayers offered on our behalf. I am forced to concur.
However, the work of the “holy women” is not limited to prayer. Everywhere I look in the parish, women are doing the work of the Church. The lectors of my parish are predominantly women, and a large number of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion are also women. Many of the altar servers are girls, and it is largely women who clean and decorate the Church, who manage the various office positions, and who coordinate parish programs like religious education and RCIA. Most do this, not for recognition or for a paycheck, but out of a deep love for Christ and his Church. And, they do this while still managing to care for their families, and working in their secular jobs. Simply put, priests depend upon the work of the “holy women.” They are necessary for the advancement of the mission of the Church.
So, here’s to all of you who are among the Holy Women of your parish. Thank you for all that you do for priests, for seminarians, and for the Church. Thank you for saying “yes” when Father asks, “Would you be willing to . . .” We appreciate the work that you do.
9/29/2006 05:04:00 PM
Thursday, September 28, 2006
According to the description of this blog, through our entries we seminarians are supposed to provide you with "A little insight into the life of twelve seminarians preparing for ministry as Catholic priests, including daily activities..." Let me give you a sort of general overview of our life here. The following is a description of our daily activities here at the St. Paul Seminary.
The day begins early at SPS. Our first activity of the day is an optional hour of Eucharistic Adoration from 6-7am. A number of our men use this time of quiet as their longest period of personal prayer time throughout the day. This is their "holy hour" of the day. It provides us with an opportunity to begin each day in prayer and adoration before our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Men use this time to pray the Office of Readings (or Vigils) from the Liturgy of the Hours, to do other spiritual reading, to pray the rosary and other devotions, or simply to sit quietly in the presence of our Eucharistic Lord. This time of prayer is optional because the morning is not the ideal time for everyone to pray. Making a visit to our Blessed Sacrament chapel one will find seminarians making their holy hours or shorter times of prayer throughout the day.
The first required event of the day is 7am when the community comes together in the St. Mary's Chapel to pray Morning Prayer (or Lauds, another prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours). After morning prayer most of us will head over to the Binz Refectory for some breakfast and coffee before the first classes begin at 8am.
At midday the community gathers for Mass. This begins at 11:35am. After Mass we head back to the Binz for lunch, with afternoon classes commencing between 1:00 and 1:30pm. After classes end in the afternoon, we all gather again at 5pm for Evening Prayer (or Vespers). And then it is off to the Binz one last time for dinner.
We are not all in class all day from 8am until 5pm. Our schedules vary. The times that we are not in class during the day we spend studying, exercising, playing sports, visiting, relaxing, typing blog entries, etc. All of these activities are going on in the seminary throughout the day.
At 9:15pm many will gather to pray the rosary in the chapel and then at 9:45pm we gather in the lounges on our floors for the final hour of the Liturgy of the Hours, Night Prayer (or Compline). At 10pm we begin quiet hours. This does not mean that we are not allowed to visit anymore after this time, it simply means that this should be done in appropriate places, such as the floor lounges, so that those who wish to can study, pray, or go to bed early in order to be well-rested for the next day's activities.
While this is the basic structure of our days here at St. Paul Seminary, this is certainly not an exhaustive list of what goes on here. We have many events that provide welcome variations to our schedule. In the fall we have the annual Rectors' Bowl football game between the seminarians of St. Paul Seminary and the seminarians of St. John Vianney Seminary (the college seminary on the other side of campus). We also have 40 Hours of Eucharistic Adoration to celebrate the feastday of St. Charles Borromeo, the patron saint of seminarians. There is also Acolyte Installation, Declaration of Candidacy for the men planning on being ordained as deacons in May, floor parties, and other seminary and Archdiocesan events to keep life interesting and fun at the seminary!
I would like to close this blog with a reflection from the rector of St. Paul Seminary, Msgr. Aloysius Callaghan. I will share this wonderful and profound insight which he shares with us seminarians on a regular basis. The insight is this: "The best of all, come from St. Paul!" Please ponder this message in your hearts.
May God bless you!
9/28/2006 07:57:00 PM
You may or may not have discovered that His Eminence, Sean Cardinal O'Malley, OFM Cap., Ordinary of the Archdiocese of Boston now has his own blog.
Currently, he is doing a series of posts that is following his visits and happenings while he is in Rome. There are some great pics and some awe-inspiring reflections from the Cardinal.
Many of us here at the seminary were able to meet him this past year, as well as hear a few of his moving homilies, while he stayed at the seminary during the Apostolic Visitation. It was actually during that short stay with us that the news came from the Holy Father about his elevation to the College of Cardinals.
It is unclear whether he plans to continue the blog indefinitely, but judging from the overwhelming positive response he is recieving in comments perhaps he will, if his busy schedule allows it.
9/28/2006 08:19:00 AM
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Today we celebrate the Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist. It is a truely beautiful and human element in the life of the Church that we often enjoy celebrating Memorials, Feasts and Solemnities. We need to be constantly reminded of those persons who lived before us who also walked in the path of Christ. Undoubtedly, some are more significant figures than others, such as St. Matthew, whose Gospel is traditionally the first you will see when you page through the New Testament.
However, it is also the human element of rejoicing and celebrating as a community along with the heavenly communion of saints. Celebration is indeed something that our Jewish ancestors in faith have always done and still do. There are also those other times when a more somber tone is desired so that we can reflect on our own state in the eyes of God. With that being said, I think one ought to always keep in mind that there is a time for all things (within reason of course), and today we rejoice with the Church in the blessed memory of St. Matthew.
But who was he? As I said, a Gospel in the New Testament bears his name and he was also an Apostle of our Lord. The Daily Roman Missal has this to say:
"Son of Alphaeus, Matthew, also called Levi, was a publican, that is, a tax collector for the Romans. His profession was despised by the Jews. Nevertheless, our Lord called him. Matthew's vocation reminds us that sactity is not reserved for privileged persons. All states in life, all professions, all noble tasks should be sanctified, as the Church teaches. Matthew is one of the Twelve Apostles. We do not know details of his evangelization or of his martyrdom which perhaps took place in Persia. Tradition unanimously acknowledges him as the author of the first Gospel, written in Aramaic, the language that our Lord himself spoke, and translated into Greek afterwards. St. Matthew's name appears among the apostles in the Roman Canon (Eucharistic Prayer I)" (Daily Roman Missal, 4th Ed., Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., 1998. P. 1675).
Another interesting thing about St. Matthew is that his common artisitc image is the angelic creature with a human face. (Recall that the four Evangelists are depicted as a human or angelic creature (Matthew), a lion (Mark), a calf (Luke), and an eagle
(John).) St. Irenaus says that St. Matthew had "a human face-an obvious description of his (Jesus') advent as a human being" (Adv. Haer. III, 11, 8), although St. Augustine interchanges St. Matthew's and St. Mark's images(De consensu evangelistarum 1.6.9). However, the consensus after Irenaus goes with his attribution.
9/21/2006 08:37:00 AM
Monday, September 11, 2006
So, everyone has gone back to school except for me. I have been assigned to a pastoral year by my Bishop, and so as my classmates and fellow seminarians are hitting the books, I am getting geared up for a busy year in the parish. In the last week, my parish has begun two new programs (Generations of Faith and Renew) as well as beginning RCIA classes, confirmation classes, and kicking off the new year for our Newman Center. Suffice it to say that I was glad when my day off rolled around.
I had expected the first week of classes at SPSSOD to be hard for me, with all of my brothers at school, and me in the parish. I was pleasantly surprised to experience, however, that a busy week spent in service of the People of God was a soothing balm. And so, while they are all reading and writing and theologizing, and I am getting the practical experience of parish life that will prove invaluable when I am ordained. Its a little hard for me to be so far away from seminary life, but that life doesn't hold a candle to working with the people.
Good luck brothers. Study well. The Church needs you.
9/11/2006 04:24:00 PM
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Today is our first day back at the seminary for the school year. Everyone has now returned from a variety of summer assignments. Those who were ordained deacons in May and are entering their fourth and final year of seminary have returned from parish assignments in their respective dioceses. Others have returned from serving as chaplains in various healthcare centers around the state and nation, and some have returned from spending the summer in various language immersion programs (primarily Spanish). I, a humble pre-theologian, at the behest of my bishop spent a wonderful summer in two parishes of my home diocese of New Ulm, MN (see earlier entry entitled, "Parish Life").
Summer was a joy. My time in the parishes was a wonderful experience and I also enjoyed the down time I had between the end of my parish assignment and the beginning of the semester. I spent a portion of that time with my family and five days with the Trappist monks of New Melleray Abbey on a silent retreat. It probably sounds like a long time, and indeed I thought it would be, but it is amazing how quickly it went by. It's amazing how after spending a few days in silence one can so easily enter into prayer. Sitting in the chapel, reading a spiritual work in my room, or on a walk in the country--any of these became an opportunity for prayer. Normally I need the time I have to do these things simply to clear my mind and calm down, and by the time I have done that, it is time to get back to studies or run to class or eat or to attend to some other activity. However, one's mind is clear of all these distractions when there is nothing to do but read, sleep, eat, and pray. I loved it!
But, alas, I must return to my normal tasks. Oh well. It's time, and I'm ready. I should have a good line-up of courses this semester. Two of these are in philosophy, Metaphysics and Modern Philosophy. I am also registered for "Introduction to Church Documents," "Parish Ministry," and "Introduction to Ecclesiastical Latin." I think it should be fun!
Tonight we have Mass with Archbishop Flynn of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, and then the semester is officially kicked off and going! Now that we're back, why don't you stop in for a visit! We'd love to have you!
9/06/2006 02:57:00 PM