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, April 30, 2008

Summer Assignment

My vocation director came into town last night for the annual evaluations for the four men studying for the Diocese of Sioux Falls, SD. He also informed us where each of us will be for our summer placement. I will be in Milbank, SD. Milbank is in the northeast corner of the state, it is a town of about 7,500 people. I will reside at the rectory of St. Lawrence Parish. I have yet to find out when I will be moving there and what my time will hold for me. I look forward to this growing experience as I continue through seminary formation.

More on Science III

The following is the final installment of a series of posts reviewing and critiquing an article about the relationship between science, religion, and and society. The first two parts of the series can be found here and here. If you have not read them, you may want to start there.

Levin’s argument has convincing elements. Of particular import is the notion that science necessarily operates from certain presuppositions. Any critic of modern science needs to be prepared to demonstrate that not only Fundamentalist Evangelical Christians argue from an uncritical fideism. Anyone who studies science today will admit that they spend little time learning the history of science or the philosophy of science. The ethics that they do study are focused more on academic and intellectual integrity than the moral repercussions of scientific research. They unquestioningly accept the philosophical undergirding of science as fact. They unquestioningly believe that science is always good.

In light of this fact, Levin’s argument offers an honest and clear evaluation of the quasi-omnipotence that science enjoys in contemporary politics and culture. Anyone who has ever introduced philosophical principles into a debate about a scientific topic knows that such arguments are not taken seriously by anyone other than philosophers and theologians. For this reason, Levin can be forgiven if he fails to provide an adequate response to the alarm he sounds.

Levin is deeply concerned that men shaped by the modern conception of science will be unable to discern good from evil. To some extent, I share this concern. In response, Levin suggests that man needs some reference to more traditional epistemologies and anthropologies. He insists that theology, philosophy, and politics must have something to offer as regards the judgment of the moral quality of science. He is correct, but he fails to enumerate what wisdom might be brought to bear on the discussion. I suggest that of particular import are the concepts of conscience and synderesis.

Man possesses a natural habit of evaluating a thing to be either good or evil. He does not have to be taught to do so. It is well within man’s capacity, even when confronted with the full arsenal of modern scientific argumentation, to choose good over evil. Furthermore, man possesses a conscience. By means of it he judges one thing to be good and another to be evil, and in so doing, informs his will. Levin hints at these concepts, but seems reticent to employ them. While he is clearly speaking to those within a modern/post-modern framework, he cannot convince people of the need to think critically about the moral quality of science without providing a new paradigm in which they might do so.

The concern about conscience and synderesis is further augmented by the fact that Levin does not specify the philosophical or theological wisdom that should be used to influence the behavior of science. I would not go so far as to suggest that one cannot know good from evil without reference to the Aristotelian philosophical system or the Christian faith. I would suggest, though, that it is not helpful to imply that, generally speaking, all philosophy, religion, and politics have the ability to reshape people’s thinking for the better. The truth is that only some philosophy, only some theology, and only some politics are capable of improving the situation. After all, the author himself notes various famous politicians and philosophers (Machiavelli, Locke, Hobbes, Descartes, etc . . .) who have helped to shape the scientific prism through which much of humanity interprets the world today. More of their thought will not be useful. Thus, it would seem that the religion, politics and philosophy used to respond to this modern worldview must necessarily contradict those which are currently prevailing.

Finally, Levin is remiss in failing to provide even a seminal idea of a good human anthropology. He wavers as to whether or not the pursuit of health and the avoidance of suffering are sufficient ends towards which man should strive. Though he seems to lean toward the concession that such a telos is less than satisfactory, he offers little else as an alternative. In doing this, he writes an article that is appealing to people of many faith traditions, but he fails to help readers see the exalted position to which they are called in Christ. Likewise, his willingness to opine that the elimination of suffering by means of science might be a good thing limits his ability to see that human fulfillment cannot be a purely human endeavor – in brief, he shortchanges the value of the Cross.

Levin’s voice is one to which men of good will should listen. Science, though well-meaning, is clearly neither the neutral body nor necessarily the force for good that it purports itself to be. In making this claim, Levin does a great service to both science and his fellow man. His insight into the troubling direction science has taken provides a proper grounding by which some other discipline might enter more fruitfully into a conversation with science. Levin fails to articulate, however, that only the Christian tradition seems to have the insight and the wherewithal to establish itself upon that grounding. The unfortunate result of this failure is that too many people “refashioned by science” will only hear him crying wolf.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

God's providence at work

Today the Church celebrates and honors St. Catherine of Sienna. She played a vital role in the ending of the Avignon Papacy and led a holy life. The beginning of the reading for the office of readings this morning gave me some much needed words of consolation: "Eternal God, eternal Trinity, you have made the blood of Christ so precious through his sharing in your divine nature. You are a mystery as deep as the sea; the more I search, the more I find, and the more I find the more I search for you. But I can never be satisfied; what I receive will ever leave me desiring more. When you fill my soul I have an even greater hunger, and I grow more famished for your light. I desire above all to see you, the true light, as you really are." For the past few weeks I have been reading St. Matthew's gospel and this morning the passage of the ten maidens came to my eyes. St. Catherine's life was an imitation of the 5 maidens that had their wicks trimmed and ready for when the bridegroom came to the wedding banquet. The bridegroom knew the voices of the 5 wise maidens and they were able to enter the wedding banquet. The five maidens and St. Catherine reminded me this morning to persevere through the difficulties that present themselves in academics, the spiritual, and pastoral life.

Monday, April 28, 2008

One down . . .

You may have noted in one of my earlier posts that though we have just wrapped up the presbyteral ordinations for this archdiocese, the oil that anointed their hands will not be dry before we are gathered at St. Mary's Basilica for the diaconate ordinations for this archdiocese. Three men from this archdiocese and plus one from the Archdiocese of Dubuque will receive orders on Saturday at 1:00 PM. Once that has been completed, it will almost be time to hit the circuit in order to attend the priestly and diaconal ordinations for the men who will be ordained in their own dioceses. Starting on May 17, I do not think there will not be a free Saturday until the end of June. And the Church rejoices.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Etiquette, again.

I thought I would throw another of the snippets from the Social Manual for Seminarians by Rev. Thomas Case and Rev. Leo Gainor, O.P., up here for your enjoyment. This comes from Chapter 9: Tipping, page 55:

Credit Cards

Travelers, today, carry little cash but many Credit Cards and Travelers Checks. You can charge your gasoline, your flight fare, your railroad expense. You can sign for your motel, "say it with flowers," or send gifts.
In the dining room no money changes hands. You can dine, wine, and tip without cash. You sign for the meal and write in the amount of the tip for the waiter.
This, for the present, is a purely academic supposition for you, the seminarian. It will, however, become practical when you have acquired more maturity and rank, more girth and bank balance.
Then a psychological phenomenon will take place. The added prestige of "signing for it" instead of "paying now" will lift you out of the normal 15 to 20 percent tipping class and you will pencil in a tip in the 25 to 30 percent bracket. It will be painless.
The reaction will set in later on - when you receive the statement for your splurge and get out your checkbook. Maybe it was worth it!

Saturday, April 26, 2008


Well, would you look at that: Five of our men are now priests. Ever since my first year here, it's been a very awkward thing to think about. These men with whom I have lived for at least a year (some so much more closely) are suddenly priests, able to hear my confession (which, though I have been joking with now Fr. John Bauer that I'm going to come to him as my regular confessor, I probably never will go to any of them for that sacrament), able to stand in persona Christi capitis, able to confect the Eucharist.

To a certain extent, since I'm rather young, yet, I'm in the habit of looking at priests and really looking up to them not only as Fathers in the strictly ontological sense that they've been ordained but more so, in the sense that they are wiser than I, more experienced than I, and really able to be a Father to whom I can turn as a son. But the men that I've spent time with in the seminary and seen ordained, I don't view as Fathers to whom I turn as a son, but rather brothers to whom I turn as a friend and brother.

But it is just here that I love our faith, our Church - and I was spurred on to thinking about this more when recently I overheard someone say with some confusion and disgust, "The seminarians [meaning the newly ordained seminarian-priests] are going to preside at Mass??" I think it's reasonable to believe that this question arises from the same experience I have had. Suddenly, we're to believe that these men with whom we've lived and shared our lives as brother-laymen are suddenly presiding at Mass, transubstantiating the bread and wine into our Lord's most precious Body and Blood. How is this possible? It's just not right. And yet, it is.

Thanks be to God that it's not about the person/personality of the minister but rather the fact of sacramental character given through ordination! Yes, as strange as it is, these men who just an hour ago had no ability to stand behind the altar and say Mass, now do! These men make Jesus Christ present in a ways that they couldn't just before, and it's not because they're particularly holy or even likable! (though it's always nicer and better if they are), but because God in His great benignity cares for his children and gives us his own Son in his priests through sheer grace.

When I was experiencing all of this my first year here at SPS, I finally had the realization that this is really a test of faith. Do I really believe that God has sent his Son? Do I really believe that Jesus instituted the sacraments? Do I really believe they are efficacious ex opere operato? Do I really trust in the gift of the Spirit to the Church? Given that I know these men (and their weaknesses) perhaps a little too well, it really requires of me an act of faith in God's providence. Undoubtedly, too, there is the question of God's providence for me, and the act of faith it will require of me to believe that one day too, God-willing, I will stand at the altar and offer our sacrifice of praise to the Lord.


On a different note, a while back, we had our Jubilemus! celebration (written about here). For it, we wanted to obtain pictures of all the men in the fourth year class. So, I went about taking pictures of them telling them it was for the blog. This wasn't untrue: I was planning on eventually doing a blog-post featuring the deacons, I just wasn't sure when. Some of them, however, remained in disbelief. Well, here is it, though I am only going to post pictures of the five men ordained today; the others will have to wait. Here are the newly-ordained priests! (Longer bios and a fuller story can be found at The Catholic Spirit's website.

* Fr. John J. Bauer
* Age 26
* Home parish is Saint Agnes, Saint Paul
* Assigned to Nativity of Our Lord, Saint Paul
* Looks like our fairly-newly acquired statue of St. Ignatius of Loyola

* Fr. Shane A. Campbell
* Age 39
* Home parish is the Cathedral of Saint Paul, Saint Paul
* Assigned to Epiphany Parish, Coon Rapids
* (A more flattering image can be found here.)

* Fr. John D. Meyer
* Age 26
* Home parish is Guardian Angels, Oakdale
* Assigned to Saint Charles Borromeo, Saint Anthony
* Though he likes rap, his new parish will likely soon change his tastes.

* Fr. Fernando Ortega
* Age 38
* Home parish is Incarnation, Minneapolis
* Assigned to Divine Mercy, Faribault
* The first home-grown Hispanic vocation to the priesthood for this Archdiocese!

* Fr. J. Bennet Tran
* Age 36
* Home parish is Saint Adalbert, Saint Paul
* Assigned to Saint Stephen Parish, Anoka
* Not the first Vietnamese vocation for this Archdiocese, and though he would never admit it, a great diplomat.

Friday, April 25, 2008


On Friday evening the seminary community gathered at 8:00 to pray with the deacons and their families on the eve of their ordination as priests. For me, the event had a particular poignancy. These are the men with whom I began my formation here at SPS, and now I will watch as five of them ascend to the altar as holy Priests of Jesus Christ. I am overjoyed for them. They have worked hard and struggled through all the same things that all of us struggle through, and now they have been found worthy for ordination as priests. Nevertheless, I am also a little sad. This will be the definitive moment whereby I must acknowledge that they are moving out into the world to serve God's people. I, on the other hand, will remain for one more year to complete my own preparations.

I have loved these men as brothers, and as such, I am already beginning to feel what I can only assume is something akin to the empty nest syndrome experienced by parents as their children leave home. As the oldest child, I have always been the first to move out. I'm not so sure I like having to wait. In the end, though, I recognize that now is not a time for sadness, but joy. I still have three weeks before I need to worry about goodbyes. And so, I can say with all sincerity, "Congratulations! Know of my prayers for you, brothers, as you walk into the ministry to which you have been called by God."

The Struggles of Saints

Photo: Star Tribune, Joey McLeister

Perhaps you have been following some of the news in regards to a very possible saint in our midst: Mary Jo Copeland. She is the foundress of Sharing & Caring Hands, which actually comprises three main facilities now: Sharing and Caring Hands which provides homeless people meals (about 4,000 per week), Mary's Place which provides transitional housing for those who are struggling but are working at finding permanent housing, and Mary My Hope which provides teens and children with a clean, safe recreational facility for wholesome activities as well as daytime supervision.

Mary Jo is not new to run-ins with governmental agencies. In the early 1990s, she was planning her transitional housing shelter, Mary's Place (named not after the founder but our Blessed Mother), but had difficulties obtaining the building permits from the City of Minneapolis. After some media attention, she quickly had the necessary permits and construction was underway and completed in 1995. In 2002, she struggled with the City of Eagan and a number of the residents there in obtaining permission to build a 36-acre Gift of Mary children's home/orphanage. Again, after a battle, she obtained the vote of the City Council and was allowed to purchase the land and begin planning the construction. Last year, however, due to insufficient donations and funds to build, the agreement with the city expired and the children's home was cancelled.

Photo: Star Tribune, Joey McLeister
Well, she's at it again, but this time it's not so much because of new initiatives on her part. Rather, what has been (by and large) an acceptable facility for years of feeding the homeless is now deemed to be unsuitably secure and fostering crime in Minneapolis. The threat: Up your security, make it more transparent to the city, or we're removing your restaurant license (which is required for feeding the homeless). The problem: some speculate that this is just a ploy by the city to keep the "eyesore" of homeless people away from the view of fans who will visit the soon-to-be-finished, new Twins Stadium.

As is her strategy, when Mary Jo has trouble, Mary Jo seeks the Light, and the light. Not only does she ask for the assistance of Almighty God, but she gets as much public and media attention as possible and asks for the assistance of others. As discussions heated up and began to come to a climax, Mary Jo held a press conference to publicize what was happening. Support she got: from the Rector of the Saint Paul Cathedral and from many others.

Photo: SharingandCaringHands.org
As is almost to be expected by now, it looks as though Mary Jo will have her way, which, of course, she believes, hopes, and prays is God's way. She has met with the officials and assured them of her efforts to keep crime out of her facilities. The discussions are yet continuing, with a visit to the shelter of officials to review the security procedures, but it looks as though the conflict will be resolved.

Perhaps the motivations for attempting to close down Sharing and Caring Hands' food-kitchen were a bit suspect and illegitimate. Either way, Mary Jo once again holds her ground. She is a magnificent woman with a huge heart and a beautiful soul. She may be a thorn in many a side, but that's probably only because the saying applies to her which goes: "Saints are the hardest people to live with."

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Our Schedule

I may have mentioned before that seminarians are exceptional complainers. Thus, when we whine about being busy, it probably means that we are no busier than anyone else. Nevertheless, I recently received an email update reminding us of events that will be occurring in the next several days. It is a little daunting. I have reproduced that schedule below:

* Wednesday April 23. CHANGE IN NORMAL SCHEDULE: Instead of normal
11:35am mass, it has be rescheduled to 12noon. Spiritual formation
conferences have been canceled.

* REQUIRED ATTENDANCE: Wednesday, April 23 - Owens Science Hall, 3M Auditorium - 7:30 p.m. PAUL VI AND EVANGELIZATION. Most Reverend Vincenzo Paglia, Bishop of the Diocese of Terni, Italy. President of Committee for Inter-Religious Dialogue of the Italian Bishops' Conference; Member of Community of Sant'Egidio.

* REQUIRED ATTENDANCE: Thursday, April 24 5pm. SMC. EP and Distinguished Alumni Award. ATTIRE: formal.

* Thursday, April 24, - O'Shaughnessy Educational Center - 7:30 p.m. PAUL VI's HUMANAE VITAE: A PROPHETIC DOCUMENT. Janet E. Smith, Ph.D., Father Michael J. McGivney Chair of Ethics, Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit. Comments by Monsignor James Mulligan, Director of the Office of Priestly Life and Ministry, Diocese of Allentown, PA.

* Friday, April 25. 8pm-9pm. SMC. Holy Hour for Ordinands.

* REQUIRED ATTENDANCE: Saturday, April 26. 10am Cathedral of Saint Paul. Ordination to the Priesthood. ATTIRE: liturgical (if good weather, meet outside the front steps of the Cathedral; if bad weather, meet in St. Mary's Chapel at the Cathedral).

* REQUIRED ATTENDANCE: Monday, April 28. 7pm SMC. Mass and Reception in appreciation of Teaching Parish Committees. NB. No 11:35am mass. No 5pm Communal EP. ATTIRE: formal with nametag

* REQUIRED ATTENDANCE: Sunday May 4. 10am. SMC. Friends Mass and Breakfast. ATTIRE: formal with nametag. NB. Please refer to the email memo from Ann Serdar dated 04/21 about specific class responsibilities for that morning.

Also included in this list should be the Masses of Thanksgiving and Receptions for the Ordinandi, as well as the Ordination Mass for those who will be ordained to the transitional diaconate in a little more than a week.

This schedule is hectic, but as the year comes to an end, there is great joy. The Church is blessed with new priests and deacons. Many men have moved on step closer to realizing that same end. Likewise, there are so many people deserving of our thanks and appreciation. They deserve some acknowledgment as well. So, during these times, we just have to allow ourselves to be swept along by the whirlwind, and give thanks to God for the opportunity to do so.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

More on Science II

This is the second part of a series considering the relationship between religion and science. The first part can be read below under the post titles More on Science.

Levin is careful to note that the preservation of life and the avoidance of suffering are not necessarily incompatible with the pursuit of virtue. There is something noble about a society that refuses to accept suffering even for the lowliest of its members. Nevertheless, as Levin observes, in society driven by science, “It is very hard to describe something higher than health." As a result, people of good will are disposed to pay for health even when doing so demands the rejection of time-honored principles and self-evident truths.

One of principles with which modern man has paid for scientific advancement has been his capacity for self-governance. Because science has made enticing promises (a long life with limited suffering and hardship), and as often as not has delivered on this promise, the good of science has superseded the ability of politics to “act in the service of other important goods." The activity of science is beyond reproach. Public opinion cannot touch it. If science has determined something to be safe and of benefit to some group of people, there is very little that can be done to regulate it. The author cites the debates about RU-486 in the House of Representatives during which some delegates decried the involvement of ‘personal beliefs’ in making a determination about the benefit of the drug. If science says it is safe, there is no good reason to limit it. Such is the stranglehold the science has on the modern conception of knowledge. Philosophy, theology, and other disciplines that have traditionally helped humans appropriate the moral quality of an action are no longer considered forms of knowledge. Resultantly, they have nothing to offer that might shed light on the conclusions of science. Without these disciplines, however, science becomes, de facto, the discipline that tells people how to live. If something can be done, science teaches, it ought to be done.

Ultimately, Levin argues, science has reshaped the moral attitudes of man. Science is both the end of moral decision-making and the means by which such decisions are made. The natural consequence of this mentality is the human incapacity to tell the difference between good and evil. Science has reshaped people, and the shape they have taken does not bode well for the preservation of society, of culture, or of the souls of modern men.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Holy Father's meeting with the youth and seminarians

Our day on Saturday started early with mass in a meeting room at our hotel. From there we went to the Yonkers Speedway to get on a bus to go to St. Joseph's Seminary. Fr. Cozzens proudly holds our parking pass.

From there we went through security and staked out our spot.

As the day went by the field began to fill up and the sun was out for the whole day. There were a lot of musical acts including some Christian artists (3rd day, Salvador, Fr. Stan Fortuna CFR, Matt Maher) and the last artist was Kelly Clarkson who won the first American Idol competition a few years back. After that the stage crew got the stage set up for the Holy Father. Before Pope Benedict came out on to the stage, he visited with some young people who have mental and physical disabilities in the seminary chapel. One of the little girls wrapped her hands around the Holy Father and gave him a hug. She then helped one of the other children approach the Pope. It was a beautiful moment to see and it meant a lot to me in particular because I have a sister who is disabled and it was a sign that the Holy Father was reaching out to her as well.

After that the Holy Father came out with a roaring crowd. He came down one of the walkways about fifteen feet away from us.

We are back

We are finally back in St. Paul. Our flight got delayed about an hour or so. We are all very thankful for the chance to see our Holy Father and to hear what he had to say to our country. I will write a more extensive post after some sleep.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

In Praise of God

One of the men down the hall from me just commented on how beautiful a day today is. Indeed, it is. I attempted to coax him into authoring a guest-post on here; I told him he could write "in praise of God's beauty," which reminded me of today's Morning Prayer (the name for which in Latin, coincidentally, is "Ad Laudes Matutinas," literally, "At the Morning Praises"). Among the texts is the Old Testament Canticle prayed every other Sunday and every feast day from Daniel 3. For your meditation:

Daniel 3:57-88, 56

Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord. *
Praise and exalt him above all forever.
Angels of the Lord, bless the Lord. *
You heavens, bless the Lord.
All you waters above the heavens, bless the Lord. *
All you hosts of the Lord, bless the Lord.
Sun and moon, bless the Lord. *
Stars of heaven, bless the Lord.

Every shower and dew, bless the Lord. *
All you winds, bless the Lord.
Fire and heat, bless the Lord. *
Cold and chill, bless the Lord.
Dew and rain, bless the Lord. *
Frost and chill, bless the Lord.
Ice and snow, bless the Lord. *
Nights and days, bless the Lord.
Light and darkness, bless the Lord. *
Lightnings and clouds, bless the Lord.

Let the earth bless the Lord. *
Praise and exalt him above all forever.
Mountains and hills, bless the Lord. *
Everything growing from the earth, bless the Lord.
You springs, bless the Lord. *
Seas and rivers, bless the Lord.
You dolphins and all water creatures, bless the Lord. *
All you birds of the air, bless the Lord.
All you beasts, wild and tame, bless the Lord. *
You sons of men, bless the Lord.

O Israel, bless the Lord. *
Praise and exalt him above all forever.
Priests of the Lord, bless the Lord. *
Servants of the Lord, bless the Lord.
Spirits and souls of the just, bless the Lord. *
Holy men of humble heart, bless the Lord.
Hananiah, Azariah, Mishael, bless the Lord. *
Praise and exalt him above all forever.

Let us bless the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. *
Let us praise and exalt him above all forever.
Blessed are you, Lord, in the firmament of heaven. *
Praiseworthy and glorious and exalted above all forever.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Free Weekend

While twelve of the men are gallivanting around New York with the Pope, the rest of the community is enjoying a free weekend. This means that the usual weekend schedule is suspended, and we are given permission to use the time as we wish. Some have gone to a funeral, others have spent the time catching up on homework, while still others have used the weekend as an excuse to go home. For me, the free weekend has afforded the opportunity to visit Como Park. I was told that a fascinating species of flower was in blossom. It is called the Corpse Flower. Only about 125 specimens of this flower have been discovered in the world, but one of them lives at the Como Park Conservatory. Because the flower blossoms only every fifteen years, it is quite an experience to be able to see one. The downside, however, is that the blossom smells of decaying flesh. The advantage of this odor is that it attracts insects that would typically feed on carrion. These insects pollinate the plant.

Sadly, I missed the Corpse Flower by a week. It had been damaged in transplanting it, and as a result, had been taken into the nursery for more specialized care. The day was not a loss, however. I also visited the Como Zoo. Among the exhibits were tigers, giraffes, and lions. This evening, I joined friends from high school for dinner. It was a lovely, relaxing, rejuvenating day - a real blessing in the craziness of spring.

Friday, April 18, 2008

More on Science

By happy coincidence, an article I read for my Moral Theology class, the course material for my Christianity Since the Enlightenment class, and the theater release of the documentary film, Expelled all seem to have aligned for a brief moment as though they were the planetary dancers in a rare celestial event. The axis around which they have revolved is the relationship between religion and science. This topic has been the underlying theme for all of the material in my Enlightenment class. It was the platform from which our discussion of biomedical ethics embarked in moral theology, and in his movie, Ben Stein asks why science reacts so viscerally to the concept of intelligent design. I offer, for your enjoyment, the following installment of posts summarizing Yuval Levin's argument in his article, The Moral Challenge of Modern Science (The New Atlantis, Number 14, Fall 2006, pp. 32-46.), as well as some of my own reactions to the article.


In his article, The Moral Challenge of Modern Science, Yuval Levin presents a cogent argument suggesting that the moral neutrality that science claims for itself is in fact a myth. Like all disciplines, science relies upon certain philosophical and moral presuppositions. These presuppositions, though not altogether apparent, have had a profound effect in shaping the conscience of western civilization. While some good has come of this phenomenon, there are also various pitfalls. Though convincing, Levin’s argument fails to consider a number of important points which would help his argument succeed.

Science has consistently claimed a certain neutrality for itself, insisting that it does nothing more than elucidate the facts that people have discovered through the process of scientific observation. Thus, science often defends itself against critics by noting that a moral quality can be assigned only to those means by which the observations of science are employed. It is easy to decry the use of atomic weapons as evil; it is not so easy to criticize the science by which nuclear technology became possible. Nevertheless, Levin concludes that at its inception, “Modern science was a profoundly moral enterprise, aimed at improving the condition of the human race, relieving suffering, enhancing health, and enriching life." So pervasive was this outlook that society soon embraced this end as the primary good toward which human cultures should strive.

Levin argues that the scientific conception of the telos of human existence – the preservation of life and the alleviation of suffering – remains normative today. For this reason, science is careful not to cause undue suffering or danger to human research subjects. Though this sort of mentality is based upon a moral supposition, some objectivity is still maintained inasmuch as science does not believe itself to force any particular way of living upon people. Humans are presumably free to live as they choose in light of scientific advancement. Such a statement is not altogether true, though. Unfortunately, science and its ends have become the prism through which the rest of reality is interpreted. As a result, it now seems quite foreign to assume that society exists for the sake of helping man achieve excellence, as Aristotle would have contended. Instead, the entire role of society is to help man escape or at least mitigate the misery inherent to his existence. As Levin notes, modern man has come to the point of “confusing the avoidance of the worst with the pursuit of the best.”

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A Rite of Spring, the Fourth Part

Here's yet another step in the process of making the SemMade (Seminary-Made) Maple Syrup (though this is not its official title; we have yet to decide that for this year). It's fairly straightforward; I'll let the video speak for itself.

Getting ready for New York

In a little over 24 hours 12 seminarians and Fr. Andrew Cozzens will be in the air to go to New York. We will be at St. Joseph's Seminary on Saturday for the time with the youth and seminarians that will be present and at the Mass on Sunday at Yankee's stadium. Although I have seen the pope while I was in Rome a couple of years ago, it will be amazing to see him in our own country. I will do as many posts as I can and get some good pictures up too.

A Rite of Spring, Tertia Pars (Part III)

We took this video a couple of weekends ago. With the weather not knowing what to do with itself recently, the trees are going to start budding, and so the sap apparently will soon turn bitter. By now, they've finished collecting the sap, but for latter part they were keeping the more recent batches separate from the earlier ones just in case it had begun to go sour. The video below is the next step in the process after tapping the trees and collecting the sap (well, and straining out the bark). It took some time to get this one up because we're still working on perfecting the art of video-posting, but enjoy nontheless. We've actually resorted to utilizing YouTube to post these videos since BlogSpot's doesn't seem to be working quite right. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Professions, Oaths and Declarations, Oh My!

To a certain extent, I feel as though I should do another post summarizing my experience of my grandfather's funeral, but quite frankly, I haven't had the time, yet. Why is that? Well, as Tyler's last post, Consummatum est, describes, upon my return to the seminary we had Jubilemus! imminently upon us with a number of fine details yet to be worked out and attended to.

More importantly, however, was today's Public Declaration of the Third Theology men in preparation for their Ordination to the Sacred Order of Deacon. It is something which happens before ordination to both the Diaconate and the Presbyterate (and the Episcopate?). The way we do it here at SPS is in the midst of Evening Prayer. After the Reading and before the Gospel Canticle the ones to be ordained stand and read a Profession of Faith as well as an Oath of Fidelity.

Largely, these state that by undertaking the duties of the Diaconate or the Presbyterate, we declare publicly that we will adhere to the Faith of the Church and exercise the Office to be received obediently and faithfully. We then sign these forms on the altar and hand them to the Rector, who stands as a witness and representative of the Church. When we hand these in we also hand in a handwritten letter (the Church is still wonderfully old-fashioned in this sense requiring a letter penned by our own hand) stating our free-willed and non-compulsed request for Ordination, as well as our understanding and readiness to commit oursleves to life-long celibacy.

Pictured above are my three forms ready and waiting to be read, signed and handed over.

Though all of these many steps along the way to Priesthood can be seen as simply hoops to jump through, when seriously considered in prayer, they are more opportunities of grace. They give us who are going through them the opportunity to continually reflect and enter deeper into the mystery of the vocation to which God is calling us. They afford us the grace of solidifying our will on God's will. They present us with the choice of humble submission and true freedom. They allow the Church to celebrate God's mysterious design with which He has endowed the Church. They give us (God- and Church-willing) future priests excitement, a foretaste, and yet another reason to celebrate!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Consummatum est

The roast of the Deacons was a great success.

With a live performance (a musical of sorts) based loosely on Dante's Purgatorio, the deacons were roundly (though charitably) ridiculed. I had the privilege of spending the majority of the show on stage watching the audience. Everyone laughed, none were offended, and all had a good time. We ended with a toast honoring the Deacons and a presentation of gifts from our class. I am glad to have played a part in making such a successful night possible. And I'm really glad its over.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Opportunity Cost

For seminarians (and parents, and priests, and teachers, and lawyers, and doctors, etc . . .) there is always one more thing to do, and every decision to do something implicitly includes deciding not to do something else (I believe economists describe this phenomenon as "opportunity cost"). Sometimes the cost is worth it, though. Such was the case this weekend.

On Friday evening, four of the minor seminarians from my diocese (currently studying at Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Winona) make the two hour drive to the Twin Cities to see the big city and spend some time with me. I had seen them over Easter and had encouraged them to come whenever the fancy struck them (and whenever the Rector of their seminary would permit it). This weekend provided that opportunity.

I must admit that as their arrival day drew nearer, I became a little concerned. I would have to host them through most of the weekend, and I had a lot of things to get done. But, I had told them to come and I couldn't back out. I am sure glad I didn't.

Friday evening, we shared dinner with most of the rest of the men from my floor of our residence hall (hosted at the Companions of Christ House). We then returned to the seminary to pray evening prayer together and do a little catching up. Saturday, following Mass, we went out on the town. A visit to Leaflet Missal (an obligatory event for seminarians making their first visit to the city) and Vietnamese food for lunch (an obligatory event for those visiting me for the first time) were the first items on the agenda. After lunch, we visited the Minnesota History Center (they have a great exhibit on domestic terrorism) and when we had run out of get-up-and-go, we stopped by the Cathedral for some "oo"ing, "aw"ing and prayer. By that time, we were all ready to go back to the seminary for a cup of coffee. The rest of the evening was spent over dinner, a quick excursion into Minneapolis and quiet conversation.

This morning was pent in the suburbs. It was teaching parish weekend, so all of the theologians were out attending Mass at their teaching parishes. My group and I headed out to Woodbury bright and early. First Holy Communion Masses are occurring at St. Ambrose this month, so the crowd was even larger than normal. The size of the parish as something of a shock to the young guys. St. Ambrose is about three times the size of the largest parish in our diocese.

The men helped me (along with my teaching parish committee and a generous couple who volunteered their already baptized baby) perform a practice baptism which we filmed so that my instructors could evaluate it later. Once finished with that, we headed back for St. Paul. After a quick brunch, they headed back to Winona and I to my books.

After reading all of the above, I suppose that readers are asking, "What is the point of all this?" I am not really sure, other than to say that it was nice to see faces from home. It was nice to strengthen the bonds of fraternity with the men of my own diocese. It was nice to ignore my academic responsibilities for a day. It was a nice weekend. Praised be Jesus.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Depart, O Christian Soul

Deliver your servant O Sovereign Lord Christ, from all evil, and set him free from every bond; that he may rest with all your saints in the eternal habitations; where with the Father and the Holy Spirit you live and reign, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Depart, O Christian soul, out of this world;
In the Name of God the Father Almighty who created you;
In the Name of Jesus Christ who redeemed you;
In the Name of the Holy Spirit who sanctifies you.
May your rest be this day in peace,
and your dwelling place in the Paradise of God.

- Commendation of the Dying

As has been frequently noted in the last number of weeks, Theology III is learning how to celebrate the rites of the Church. Because the time we have to learn these rites is limited, we spend some time, even before our ordinations as deacons, learning how to celebrate the Anointing of the Sick and the rites that surround the pastoral care of the dying. Friday was my turn as priest, and I was assigned to anoint someone in the hospital. All that occurred was unrehearsed, so I had to think on my feet. The following is a blow by blow account.

My patient, Brian (played by a generous pre-theologian), was in his bed when I entered the room. In a brief conversation with him, I learned that he was dying from Leukemia, and that doctors predicted that he would not live through the week. His family visited him intermittently, but were not with him when I arrived. We began the Anointing of the Sick when the "doctor" entered the room and informed me that his vitals were falling. I hurried along with the sacrament. The Patient became unresponsive as I finished anointing his hands, so I granted the Apostolic Pardon, and then moved to the prayers for the dying.

As I was praying the Litany of the Saints, Brian's "brother" arrived. I informed him that I was praying and that I was asking the intercession of the Saints in Heaven for the sake of his brother. He informed me that he was not Catholic and did not believe such things. I invited him to simply remain with us silently until I had finished the prayer. I prayed the prayer of commendation for the dying: "Depart O Christian Soul, etc . . . As I offered the final blessing, Brian (who had been comatose during all of the preceding prayers) suddenly recuperated enough ask to receive Holy Communion. I was happy to oblige. I finished, offered my condolences and told the brother to contact me if he needed anything.

I know I didn't do it all right. I hadn't practiced most of the prayers (My assignment was to anoint a sick person in a hospital. I had expected it to be a run of the mill sort of event.) Unfortunately, we were out of time to discuss what I had done. I have to wait until Tuesday to find out what I should have done.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

One more week

In less than a week, Pope Benedict XVI, will arrive in the United States for his first visit as pope. In February it was decided which seminarians were going to represent the seminary. I was very lucky to be chosen as one of the representatives of my class. The excitement has been building up since the Holy Father sent a preliminary message to the United States. I am looking forward to hearing our Holy Father while in New York and I will blog as much as I can and get some pictures up as well.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Horizon

The population of South Dakota hovers around 700,000 people. There is a comparable number of cattle. As a result, the people of my community can easily be forgiven for shaking their heads and asking with dismay, "How can you stand all those people?" when I tell them that I spend most of the year in the Twin Cities. It is true that after a summer away, I feel a little cramped upon returning to St. Paul. Nevertheless, the population of the metro area does not constitute the greatest hardship for me. Rather, it is the lack of a horizon. Living in the Mississippi River Valley, one's view of the sky is limited to what is directly overhead. This can make for long and gloomy winters when the Minnesota gray settles over the land in November and fails to lift until mid-April. During those times, I miss the horizon. I miss being able to see for miles and miles. I miss the assurance of clear skies in that is provided to me when I look out from a lonely hill and see the lights of town some distant places sixty miles away. But most of all, I miss the sunset. There is nothing like a sunset - the gold melting into pink melting into violet melting into black - stretching out for miles and miles. The Twin Cities can offer many things, and I like it here, but the sunsets just don't compare. Occasionally, though, this city surprises me and gives me a little taste of what I know from home. The photo accompanying this post was taken by a seminarian from Nebraska (with a similar perspective on the topography of Minnesota ). In it, the sun is rising and reflecting off the buildings on the Minneapolis skyline. It isn't a South Dakota sunset, but it is beautiful nonetheless.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

It's odd...

In the five minutes between class and my going off to prepare for Mass this morning, I checked my voicemail and got a message from my dad telling me to call when I had the chance; "It's about grandpa." This had become somewhat common recently, given that my dad's father had taken a pretty bad fall just over a month ago and had been having difficulties ever since.

But when I got back from Mass and my duties sorting the mail and there was another voicemail from my dad, I decided I had better call and find out what was going on.

Hello. It's Greg. How are you?
Oh, well, I gotta tell you... (his voice choking up) Grandpa's passed away.

Ever since then, I wouldn't quite say the world is spinning about me, but there's an odd way in which my attention is consumed by the here and now, with the sole addition of, "Grandpa's gone." So, the whole day, the whole week is then different. Out the window go any regular plans for classes and homework. In fly visiting grandma, being with my family, preparing his momentos, traveling to the place of his vigil, funeral and burial.

The rest of the afternoon was spent trying to figure out exactly what I was to do next. "Okay, if I leave, I need to have enough clothes for...five days," and as I opened my drawers, I realized that it was time for laundry. "Okay, I guess I have to do my laundry first." "All right, I have to find someone to do the mail. Also, someone else has to do the morning holy hour setup. But wait, I won't be at my teaching parish this weekend; I won't be able to MC for the Confirmations with the Bishop. Can one guy MC four confirmations in one weekend? Well, the Bishop is celebraing it four times in one weekend. Okay, so e-mail the Bishop. E-mail my Teaching Parish. E-mail my Diocesan Brothers. Wait, it's time to throw the laundry in the dryer. Write a note to the men here at SPS." And on, and on the internal dialogue went.

An afternoon seemingly wasted on little details, but all important ones. Finally, Evening Prayer. Yet all throughout EP my mind was only tangentially meditating on the words of the Psalms, hymns and spiritual canticles. I can only think, "O Lord, have mercy on him. Domine..." I can only try my best. Though the story of my day obviously doesn't end here, it highlights perhaps the most quizzical thing about my day and about the human condition (though obviously not the most important). Perhaps it's just a sort of "shock factor," but an overwhelming event has hit and it has consumed my attention such that I struggle making sense of things, and reflecting. In this life, man doesn't have complete control over his own self, his body, his mind. For me, my mind just won't move beyond, "He's dead."

Monday, April 07, 2008


We have been discussing some of the ramifications of evolution in one of my classes.

Few things have the capacity to inspire heated emotional debate between believers and non-believers as do Darwinism and the related topic of Intelligent Design. Those who do not believe in a God tend to think that a rejection of certain aspects of Darwinism and the theory of evolution necessitates an unthinking, uncritical, unscientific (and thereby unreasonable) assent to a predetermined set of beliefs for which there is no evidence. This position is clearly false. Those who reject evolution as a whole insist that the theory demands a rejection of Divine Revelation and God's intervention in the world. This position is also false.

Catholics tend to try to walk a mediating position between the two aforementioned extremes. We do not want to wholly reject the notion of evolution. There is ample evidence to demonstrate that evolution occurs. Similarly, we also do not want to promote a wholesale acceptance of evolution that discounts God as Creator. Thus, we are left to conclude that in some manner or another, God has used evolution as an instrument of his will for his creation. In saying this, though, we must also account for several things. First, free will must remain in tact. Providence is such that it allows for man to exercise his will. Any theology we develop around evolution may not limit free will too much. Further, considering the fact that evolution entails a great degree of suffering, we must somehow account for evil. Why does it exist?

Science likewise has questions to answer. How can evolution account for intelligence? What survival trait led to the development of minds capable of self-reflection? More over, how can random mutation account for the fact that the human genome contains a quantity of information equivalent to printed documents stacked in a pile taller than the Washington Monument? Why do humans perceive beauty? How do we produce prodigies, and why are they not more likely to reproduce?

I proffer no answer to these questions tonight. I just offer them for your consideration. How are we to appropriate the determinations of evolutionary science while still considering seriously the data provided by Revelation?

Sunday, April 06, 2008

The Always Inspiring Office

Each day before Morning Prayer, most of us in the seminary have already completed the Office of Readings. This daily prayer consists of three Psalm excerpts, a Biblical reading, a responsory, a writing from a saint or other Church figure, and a closing prayer.

The "saintly" reading for today's Office of Readings was from Saint Justin, a martyr in the early Church. We read an excerpt from one of his works explaining Christiantiy.

In this excerpt, Saint Justin explains a typical early gathering of the Christian community.

Saint Justin writes: "On Sunday, we have a common assembly of all our members, whether they live in the city or in the outlying districs. The recollections of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as there is time. When the reader has finished, the president of the assembly speaks to us; he urges everyone to imitate the examples of virtue we have heard in the readings. Then we all stand up together and pray. On the conclusion of our prayer, bread and wine and water are brought forward. The president offers prayers and gives thanks to the best of his ability, and the people give their assent by saying 'Amen.' The Eucharist is distibuted, everyone present communicates, and the deacons take it to those who are absent . . . the collection is plaved in the custody of the president . . . in a word, he takes care of all who are in need."

Catholics, of course, will find that this sounds all so very familiar. A contemporary theologian writes on this subject saying: "You are in that great community of believers which, ever since the days of the apostles, has been carrying and sustaining each individual believer . . . what you believe is the faith of the Church, that faith which goes back to the apostles - even to the risen Lord himself."

Both our scriptures and our practices/traditions date all the way back to the apostles, to Christ. On each occasion when I consider the breadth of our history as followers of Christ, I am moved that Mother Church is the same today as it was for the apostles and Saint Justin.

Saint Justin, pray for us.

All you holy apostles, pray for us.

Take care, -Jeremy

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Pranks, in a different setting

Have you ever been at wedding and the Best Man or the Maid of Honor was giving a speech at the dinner and as soon as the second word was out of their mouth, you knew this was going to be long? Or, how about a funeral wherein Father does the Prayer after Communion and all of a sudden he looks like he's choking on a bone because he realizes that Uncle Joe has gone up to the podium and is - whether Father objects or not - bound and determined to deliver a Eulogy for Grandma Jane.

One of the pleasures of second semester in Theology III is that we finally have Liturgical Presidency I. As a part of the class, every Friday at 8:00 AM we practice some rite, whether it be a Baptism, a Funeral, the Easter Vigil, the various rites of the RCIA. Yesterday it was my turn to practice a Funeral Mass fulfilling the role of the Priest.

Now, sure, fine. I was the one who started it all. It was a minor point in that I was asked by my classmate (who was practicing as deacon in this rite) to kneel down and pray. Knowing that there were other options, I turned to the "Deacon" and asked, "Huh? Do I have to kneel?!" He looked at me, thought for a second and responded with some ire, "You may simply bow your head if you would like." Yesterday, as I was the priest in the Funeral, we got to the Prayer after Communion and I was chanting happily along the mournful prayer when suddenly I noticed in the corner of my eye what I wished I could disbelieve. I looked and sure enough. There he was. The seminarian who was playing the role of the grandson was walking right up to the ambo without my asking.

As I finished chanting the prayer, I looked over to the Deacon and he only waved me off implying, "Ah, settle down." What could I do? Run over to the "grandson" and tell him to sit down before he began speaking? That would not look good. So what was I to do? Nothing, except fold my hands in prayer and put on a smile for as long as this unexpected Eulogy was to draw on. Thankfully, it only lasted about 45 seconds, but as I looked out to my classmates, I saw a number of them smiling and giggling devilishly. At this point, I knew they had put our unsuspecting Pre-Theology brother up to getting even with me. Ah, seminarian humor. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Spring is in the air ....

Every year around this time, it happens. Triduum and Easter have come and gone, as well as the snow! Of course, this year, we had an unexpected surprise of an abundant snowfall that only added to the onset of March Madness ... by that I mean the NCAA tournament, but also of "spring fever" which sets itself into just about every seminarian.

I hit me huge just today during the 10 minute break during my afternoon class. I walked outside to check my voicemail ... then it happened: the breeze was blowing, the sun was shining and felt really good on my face. There are other signs around campus that spring is in the air: puddles of melted ice-water, outdoor runners and bikers, people practicing their frisbee skills, and the inevitable feeling of wanting the semester to finish.

The beginning of spring is the sign that signifies to us that there is hope for the end of the academic year! This is surely not an excuse to shirk off our intellectual responsibilities, but rather it is a time to simply recall how much work has been put forth in the past 8 months. When I stop to think about the amount of intellectual energy that has been spent on learning things like: the personalities of the 12 biblical prophets based on textual criticism, the major themes in Johannine literature, the foundational ideas that undergird Pope John Paul II's famed Theology of the Body, the intricacies and refinements of liturgical presidency, the nature of Catholic Social Teaching as being essential and not secondary to the life of the Church, etc ... we've been doing LOTS of LEARNING around here. All this work will serve the People of God to whom we will minister in the future. But in the meantime, spring is the time to just stop and breathe fresh air, to remind ourselves that all this intellectual work serves a purpose ... to bring life and light to the people of God.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Easter Hymn Festival

Twice a year the Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity hosts a musical performance by its own Chorale. The Chorale has a history here at SPSSOD of having seminarians and lay students rehearse once a week, putting on their two peformances around the liturgical feasts of Epiphany and Easter. The Chorale also often sings for Diaconate Ordination for this Archdiocese. Well, this Sunday we will be having our yearly Easter performance. The music varies from Draw us in the Spirit's Tether, to Maneant in Nobis (a song written for Pope Benedict's Installation Mass as Bishop of Rome), to Lord of the Dance, to Crown Him with Many Crowns. Yours truly will be in the Chorale, but I am the only blogger singing with the group. All are invited to attend. It promises to be a rousing event!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

House Party

Christos anesti! As we were approaching the end of the Easter Octave, on Saturday, 29 March 2007, the first floor of the seminary (the Pre-theologians) hosted a house party in the Saint Olaf room.

Of course all great school-parties have a theme, and this party was no exception; our theme - the Italian mafia. I had best be clear from the start; we are in no way endorsing mafia methods, lifestyles, nor any mobster-esque behavior. Scott and Luke proposed the idea for its more seminary-suitable features.

Our plan: start with Evening Prayer at 5:15pm, an Italian dinner at 5:35pm, start the mafia-style games around 6:30, dessert and drinks to follow plus a small bonfire, more games, and a movie to end the night. Does that sound fun? It was an offer none in the seminary could refuse . . .

Our mafia-style games included poker, blackjack, horse-racing, and sports betting. Everyone was given $10 worth of chips (a.k.a. fake-money) just for coming to the party. These chips could be used to play in the games throughout the night. The purpose: the top five chip-winners at the party would win gift certificates for local Saint Paul restaurants.

Tim is a Pre-theologian who is also an expert in the rules and strategy of Blackjack. Tim was both dealer and house-player for the entire evening at the blackjack table. Too bad for Tim that he could not play his own hand on the side; based on his knowledge and advice, he would have been the big winner for the night.

Now, perhaps you're thinking: what about those horse races? How did they race horses inside the seminary AND if they did get horses in the seminary, does the rector know about this?

This was a new game for me - here's how we did it: Every fifteen minutes the house would offer a horse race. There were four horses racing: Diamonds, Hearts, Spades, and Clubs - you probably see where this is going. The house, after closing the betting table, would use a shuffled deck of cards; the house would then turn over a card and call-out the suit (spades, for example) at which point, the spades-horse would advance. The first "horse" to pass the seventh leg of the "racetrack" won (and so did all those seminarians who bet on that "horse"). Our jockeys were seminarian volunteers and our horses were comically-large playing cards.

Of course, what Mafia party would be complete without the game of Mafia? Now this is a game that I have seen in the past but have failed to understand how it was fun; in this regard, I had the perfect lesson and example of how it can be both fun and hilarious.

In brief, there are two main teams (plus some other characters): let's call the first team "the good guys" and the second team "the mafia." The teams are determined by a random draw. The purpose is simple: remove all members of the opposite team from the game. The complication is that only the mafia knows who is on which team - the good guys must guess who is on the Mafia and who is on their own team as well.

During each round, the Mafia selects someone to be removed from the game while "the good guys" have their eyes closed (left, trust me, they're playing the mafia-game - it's not that they're bored). Then, the all players suggest who is on the Mafia-team; with three nominees, one is voted out of the game right) as a suspected member of the Mafia. The game ends when either a) all of the members of the Mafia are removed or b) the remaining members of the Mafia outnumber the remaining "good guys" left in the game. In this round, Deacon Bauer, though he was one of "the good guys," was voted out of the game, giving the members of the Mafia team the advantage.

As part of the nominations and voting, the accused are given an opportunity to defend themselves against the accusations - this is also a key opportunity to see how people defend their decisions and for whom they vote, as these may offer clues as to who is in the Mafia. Unfortunately, at all the games for which this author was present, the Mafia-team won. At their pinnacle, "the good guys" had nearly crippled the Mafia-team: don't let the collars fool you. Two of the three people sitting to the right were on the Mafia-team. Tom (standing) was an awesome moderator for the game.

Closing out the night, we had drinks and dessert - spumoni was the clear favorite. The bonfire was also a popular spot for the optional cigar-social. Stephen (left) kept the home-fire burning and also provided the wood. Though the chill in the air and the brisk wind would normally have pushed most seminarians back indoors posthaste, the quick-witted entertainment provided by our director of pastoral formation kept a large crowd outdoors.

The party drew to a close shortly after 10pm with the option to stay and watch a a mafia movie as the capstone to the evening. Before the Pre-theologians did anything else, however, we wanted to get a group photograph. Most of us were in costume for the party - Justin, for example, was our official bookie. Unfortunately, photogenic though we may be, our training is in philosophy and theology and not photography. As such, these are our comical best attempts a getting a great group shot of our Pre-theologians.

Take care, -Jeremy


Hail the day that sees Him rise!
Surrexit Christus! Alleluia!
All the world, bless the Lord!
Laudate Dominum, alleluia!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Eternal Rewards

It is sometimes therapeutic to remember that God is infinitely just . . .

It all began yesterday while the snow was still falling. As I walked ever so gingerly toward the refectory trying to avoid a broken hip on the icy sidewalk, I was assaulted from behind. Projectile snow (slush more accurately) hurtled toward me at lightening speed and splattered all over my head. HA HA HA! It was funny the first time. I had lost my patience by the second time when the slush ball caught me in the ear and took off my glasses.

Today, as I left the Chapel, one of the deacons came rushing up to me. "Is there any way for us to change the date of Jubilemus?" he asked. "We just got word that we have to attend dinner with the Archbishop that evening."

This event had already been rescheduled once, and to do so was not easy. As a result, I silently cursed and then shrugging said that we had hoped to host the event before ordination, but if necessary, I supposed it could be rearranged. I asked them to develop a list of other potential dates and to submit it to me. My face was a ghastly pallor. I thought I might throw up.

"April Fools!" he shrieked with glee.

I can't wait until justice kicks in . . .