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!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Reminiscences of Christmas past

This morning, I was browsing around the web, a little bored quite honestly. I looked up some of my favorite bookmarks to check up on some sites. I clicked the link to the Among the many places we visited was the newly refounded Benedictine monastery. Benedictine monastery in Norcia, Italy. I was immediately reminded of my trip to Italy in December 2005. What a blessing indeed to share briefly in the rich monastic lifestyle for a few days ... the silence during common meals, the recitation of the Office in chanted Latin (I must confess, I was a little lost trying to navigate through their breviary), the sung Latin parts of the mass celebrated in Italian. The above picture is the main sanctuary of the monastery, while this lower picture is their crypt chapel in their residence.

I remember being drawn to their simple way of life ... the routine of prayer, the sharing in fellowship, their pursuit of Truth. Their lifestyle is a total contradiction to the materialistic society in which I live. Being in Southern California during the break has made me more aware of this. Many news reports before and after Christmas highlighted shoppers' pursuit to find the right gift for their loved one. Business projections were leery about the revenue that was expected to come in. Certain major retail stores extended their shopping hours to catch those last-minute shoppers still scavenging to find last-minute sales. I have wondered in these days what makes Christmas a peculiar commercial season? Sure, it's an excuse to buy gifts for friends and family ... oftentimes exceeding their financial capabilities to get the "perfect gift." Have we forgotten the Christian roots of the season by wishing others "Happy Holidays" or "Seasons Greetings"?

For me, my Advent meditations centered around the Blessed Mother. We seminarians were given a Christmas gift from Archbishop Nienstedt, Behold Your Mother: Priests speak about Mary by Msgr. Stephen Rosetti. This book is a collection of heartfelt reflections from various priests; they speak of their relationship with Mary as being an integral relationship in their priesthood. Personal stories explain how this relationship with Mary is not a theoretical relationship with an idea or dogmatic entity but a real relationship with a person. A biblical reflection speaks of how discipleship precedes apostleship. And on and on the book goes...

These reflections for me were powerful in the face of the consumerist rush surrounding Christmas day. What did she know that we do not?

Pope Benedict XVI summed it up best in a recent audience: "What sense does it make to celebrate Christmas if we don't acknowledge that God has become man."

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