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!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Happy New Year!

It's a new day and a new year! Today, the Church begins a new year.

We just ended "Year A, Cycle Two" and we now begin "Year B, Cycle One." The readings for Sunday Mass have a three-year cycle: A, B, and C; the readings for daily Mass have a two-year cycle: One and Two. This does not affect the "Year of Saint Paul." This celebration will continue.

As Catholics, we start things off with a bang; at the beginning of our new year: Advent and Christmas!

Let's get this party started: see you at Mass today - the First Sunday of Advent.

Take care, -Jeremy

Saturday, November 29, 2008

On that day

I was inspired by FP3M commenter J. Thorp's post, "Contentment." Therein, he describes the tension between satisfaction with what he has and the capacity that the desire for more has to drive him forward. This dichotomy, it seems to me, is an inherent element of the Christian life. We are a people with an eye always toward the something more.

On Wednesday, in the readings for Mass, Isaiah will describe a time when suffering, fear, hunger, and distress will be no more. On that day we will rejoice in the God who saves us. On that day . . . We are always waiting for that day.

For some, I suppose, there is a sense of disappointment that accompanies their waiting for "that day." Paul seems to have alluded to this when writing to some of the Early Christian Churches who could not comprehend why that day had not yet arrived. They asked themselves if their hope was in vain. At times, waiting for that day is coupled with impatience. "I will not wait for that day," we say. "I will bring it about myself by voting for the right person, boycotting the right companies, and resisting certain political and social structures." For others, there is a sense of despair. "That day is a myth. This day is all there is, and we do not deserve nor can we hope for something more." For the remainder of us, that day is something for which we have little description to offer. "That day is the time when finally I will have overcome my habitual sin. That day is the day when my questions will have answers. That day is the day when everything that seems to be pulling me in opposite directions within myself suddenly and obviously becomes that which has been drawing me deeper into Christ. That day - the culmination of all that I have longed for, all that is good, all that is true. That day . . . "

That day seems to serve a dual purpose. It impels us to move forward, to become better, to live our lives as a means of preparation for that day. Similarly, that day gives us hope for this day. This day makes sense only because it anticipates the day still to come. How sad it would be if what we have today is all that we can hope for. How beautiful that what we do know today makes sense in light of that day.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Giving Thanks To and With Our Patroness

Yesterday, of course was Thanksgiving. Not a holy day but certainly one that the Church in the United States recognizes as important.

We, being a seminary in the Midwest, especially recognize the importance of Thanksgiving as a day to thank God for our great harvest of crops from the earth.

As part of our gratitude, I would like to suggest that we remember in prayer the Immaculate Conception (of Mary). She is the patroness of the United States and her memorial is just around the corner (08 December).

Take care, -Jeremy

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Recently, one of our priest-professors told us that his father likes to call him "Father." "Dad, you don't have to call me 'Father.'" "Whatever you say, Father."

Well, my grandfather has been looking forward to my ordination for some time now, though he never really speaks about it explicitly. I don't know how much he is looking forward to having one of his heirs being a priest, but I from the sense I get, he's overjoyed.

Today, as we 50+ family members were all gathered "to say grace," he - the patriarch and head of this whole group - simply says, "All right, Gregory." Indeed, as head of the family, he appointed me the minister of the Church to give the blessing, but I was taken aback by it a little bit, especially since I'm one of the younger of the bunch.

As well, at least twice between yesterday and today, he asked me, "Can I call you 'Father' yet?" Or, "When will I be able to call you 'Father?'" I was slow to give a response because I hestitate to tell my 82 year old grandfather to call me "Father." Nonetheless, I told him, "Just wait six more months. You've got to hold out till May."

I don't really think it has all that much to do with me personally; he's probably grateful simply to have a priest/religious within the family (I'll be the first). Among the many things which he gave thanks for today, I'd bet my vocation is one of them. And for his being able to do that, I myself give thanks.

Hope your Thanksgiving was splendid and graceful.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Quote of the Day - Two of Them

We're almost to the end of the (liturgical) year. Our readings for Mass last Sunday - the Solemnity of Christ the King - forcused on both Christ shepharding us and we thus being called to help other in His name. The daily Mass readings for been very apocalyptic.

In just a few days we begin Advent - four weeks in anticipation of the date on-which we remember and celerate the Birth of the Savior.

With that in mind, I would like to offer these quotes from the Gospel that celebrate the birth of Christ. It is with great and eager anticipation that we look forward to celebrating Christmas.

Perhaps we could all consider praying using these texts where the Gospel authors try to communicate the great joy, the incredible awe at the birth of Jesus.

"In the tender compassion of Our God, the DAWN FROM ON HIGH shall break upon us" (Saint Luke 1:78)


"And the WORD was made flesh and dwelt among us" (Saint John 1:14)

Take care, -Jeremy

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Last Day of Classes

At the end of classes today, many seminarians have now left for a much needed break.

It's a bit lonely here tonight, but we'll have some fun before we part ways for five days.

Take care, -Jeremy

It's that time of the year, again.

I always face a constant danger: time. By this I don't mean that it's eating away at me. Nor am I thinking of some craziness wherein I am catastrophically expecting the end of the world. I mean it in the sense that I've got too much of it.

This always happens come break. (Yes, our Thanksgiving break has begun for almost all of the men of the house. Sadly, a very few still have class tonight or the pre-theologians have some tomorrow.) I end up having so much time on my hands that I feel lost and don't know what to do.

After coming back from dinner tonight, I was talking with another guy in the house and he said he experienced the same. He sauntered aimlessly about his room, until finally he just sat down at his computer and began to waste his time away.

Sure, I have enough homework to do. I've got old papers to make sure I accomplish, I've got papers which aren't due for a month which I could begin. But it's all so distant to me now. All that stands before me is the vast immensity of having time on my hands.

So, I sit here and write. And I think come 7:00 I may watch a bit of the news and social commentary. Then I'll try sit down and do some real homework. Afterall, I do need to accomplish some work during the course of this break and plenty of time will be spent not doing homework but hanging out with my family. But I always run the risk of not actually sitting down and doing it because, "Hey! I've got all the time in the world!"

For now, however, I just sort of float about, in the vast sea of free-time, and marvel, "Ain't it grand?"

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Christ the King

Today the Church celebrates the solemnity of Christ the King and this day always reminds me of a deceased priest of the diocese of Sioux Falls. His name was Fr. Todd Reitmeyer, he was ordained in the spring of 2003 and I met him a few years later as a traveling catechist during the summers. In my time spent with Fr. Todd, I learned many things but the most important thing that I remember is a prayer he taught to the children. "Lord Jesus Christ, come into my heart, and be my king." This prayer has played a great part in my life because it reminds me that I am always in need of Jesus' presence in my life. With advent coming in less than a week, we prepare for our king to come and enter our heart.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Dreaded Songs

We remember how you loved us, to your death,
and still we celebrate for you are with us here;
and we believe that we will see you, when you come,
in your glory, Lord.
We remember, we celebrate, we believe.

Some songs are really quite difficult to pray with, especially when they're not played well - too slowly, too quickly, too playfully, to dirgishly, too fancifully, etc... One such song (at least for me) is the song above, written by Marty Haugen.

Sure, I grew up with the song and remembered it fondly throughout most of my childhood, early and even late teenage years. But that was all B.S. days (Before Seminary days). Now having learned more what the nature of the Mass is and what purpose liturgical music serves at the Sacred Liturgy, I can't stand the song, or those of its ilk.

Well, that was until recently. For some reason, God gave me the grace of an insight. I was first picking apart the song in the usual fashion: "It's using 'remembrance' in the wrong sense - it's far too weak. Christ is really present here." And on and on I would go. Well, I began down this critique this week when we heard the song again, but then moved on to critique the other movements contained in the refrain: 'we celebrate.' "Well, that's too superficial. What does he even mean by 'celebrate.'"

It was at this moment when I had my realization and I asked, "Wait a minute. Is Haugen a closet Catholic??" You see, it is a very traditional teaching to look to the three-fold significance in the Eucharist. St. Thomas Aquinas explains this quite clearly in his Summa Theologiæ. In the whole sacrament of the Eucharist, three realities are signified: 1) Christ's true death on the Cross, 2) the unity of the Church, particularly in Holy Communion, and 3) the pledge of future glory.

As "we remember," we call to mind the death of Christ. As "we celebrate," we manifest our unity in the Body of Christ by Communion. As "we believe," we await his future coming in glory when we hope to share his heavenly glory. This song, viewed from this perspective, is really very beautiful.

I think this will be one of my great tasks in the future. There are many things which exhibit truth, goodness and beauty, though in a more or less distorted manner. Sometimes, we cannot simply throw out these imperfect "tools" and replace them with other, better instruments. Hence, if we must, the key is to find the pearl contained within and help it to find its brilliance, and help others to see it.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Most Recent Party: Hillbilly Heaven

Our most recent house party here at the seminary again had a fun theme: Hillbilly Heaven. I would like to share some of the highlights from the evening. This was a great party with far too many highlights to show . . . these should be read as some of the moments I found either the most interesting or the most hillarious.

The pre-theology floor hosted this party and encouraged everyone in the seminary to come to the event in costume; as it turns out, many people here at the Saint Paul Seminary had the attire that matched the occasion. Here are a few of the one's that seemed to "hit-the-mark" in this way.

We had a "car race" inside the seminary. This is something very similar to an event we did last year at a house party - we wrote about it here: House Party. There are four "cars in the race (hearts, spades, clubs, and diamonds). We flip the deck and whichever car makes it to the finish line first wins as do all the seminarians who bet on that car.

To say the least, it was a much bigger thrill that one can imagine from any of the photographic evidence.

A new event for me was this one: frozen t-shirt. Here's the plan: take new t-shirts, soak them in water, fold them, and freeze them. Next, get five seminarians: the first one to unfold their t-shirt and put it on wins - as do all of the seminarians who bet on the winning seminarian. Trust me, this was an event worth seeing live - the videos don't quite capture the excitment and thrill - but here they are anyway: all of the guys were given thirty seconds to go anywhere in the seminary to try to thaw their t-shirt.

. . . . . . .

One more highlight that I would like to add is the "pie-eating" contest. Now, in fairness no one volunteered for this event. One seminarian started eating the pie filling just because he was hungry. Eventually, after this first seminarians had already eaten two bowls, a second seminarian challenged him. Unfortunatly, the video I took of this event in not usable - lack of proper technology I guess - however, you can use your imagination from these two pictures. Luke (on the right) won but as I wrote, James had already eaten two bowls.

Perhaps you're thinking: shouldn't our future priests be doing homework or reading theology or something? Yes, and we do for countless hours every week. Every once in a while, though, we relax, unwind, and have a silly party.

Take care, -Jeremy

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Deaconal Hobbies

One of my classmates finds the time to do some of the most interesting things:

Like make grape jelly . . .

Carve Jack-O-Lanterns . . .

Sit in the lounge watching the sunrise set downtown Minneapolis ablaze . . .

And harass the younger men with the camera.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Vatican Splendors

Several of us went to see the Vatican Splendors exhibit that is currently touring the United States. It is currently at the Minnesota History Center in Saint Paul - just a few minutes away from the Saint Paul Seminary.

I was really exited to see this. Some items were never before publicly displayed; other things would never be so easily accessible or able to be seen close-up.

There are so many really awesome things to see, but I would like to mention a few of my favorites. They have a reliquary that, among other saints, holds some of the remains of Saint Peter the Apostle - I should tell you that I was confirmed with his name, so this may be a bias of mine. A second note is a mock-ceiling of the Sistine Chapel featuring "The Creation of Man." One of the seminarians that went with me told me something I did not know about this painting: behind the portrait of God the Father, one can see the image of Saint Mary. Thirdly, there are several pieces from Pope John Paul II - my hero. They have his crosier, the document he signed upon his election as Holy Father, and some of his personal vestments.

It was great to see it with several seminarians and to hear what they found interesting. I also appreciated the available details that were all around - they shed light on the displayed materials. It's more than worth your time to see the exhibit.

Take care, -Jeremy

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Quote of the Day

As we were recording and preparing for another post by our own Mr. Lit[erature], he and Dcn. Tyler were arguing. At one point, Mr. Lit (blogger Matthew) leveled at the Deacon: "Go fall into one of your impressionist paintings!"

Monday, November 17, 2008

A picture is worth a thousand words, or at least 300

In our Trinity class, we are asked to submit a one page, 300-word position paper responding to a variety of questions on a weekly basis. Recently, the professor proposed the following quote while asking us for a response to the author:

"(The Holy Spirit) is not controllable by any institution or community, but is effective beyond the confines of the Church."

One of our brothers suggested that he might submit the following picture in response:

Self knowledge.

These days I am wondering about self knowledge and its importance in developing my own relationship with God. What is the correlation? I looked to St. Teresa of Avila as she explains the great need for this understanding of self. I drew this connection - maybe its not that big of a jump, but here we go:

When you really get to know yourself (and I mean really know yourself), you begin to grow in humility. I think one must know God for one to really even grasp at knowing oneself and understanding one's place in the world. It seems the longer you know God in an intimate, relational way, the more you find out how much distance there is between yourself and his perfection. From this, one can fall into another fault (which is something I fall into): self-destruction. True humility is not self-deprecation but understanding that your relationship with God is of dependence and worth. We know that it's a whole lot easier to tell someone what you're not good at or where your faults lie, and not the opposite.

What are your good qualities that set you apart from others or that make you you? How much does this understanding of yourself matter? It matters indeed, and it makes a world of a difference.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

May they rest in peace.

This past week I checked the website for one of the funeral directors that I got to know during my summer assignment. When I left the parish in early August, one of the priests from the Blue Cloud Abbey was dying; in early September he passed away. On October 6th one of the women I visited with at one of the nursing homes passed away. A man I visited a few times died on October 11th. On October 28th, another one of the women I visited lost her battle with cancer. Most recently, a woman I brought communion to died this past Friday. I know that when I go back to Milbank sometime I will not be able to see them in person. It is difficult to think that men and women whom I saw a few months ago have passed away, and that they are very missed by their families and those who got to know them. May Fr. George Lyon OSB, Grace Czmowski, Sophie Cizmadij, Edward Hublou, and Theresa Van Sambeek rest in peace.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Homily Prep

We were told in our first homiletics class that beginning preachers need to spend about one hour of preparation for every minute that they will preach. I have found this estimate to be basically true when one accounts for time spent in prayer, writing, and practicing the delivery. Nevertheless, even with all of this preparation, there are still times when the preacher looks at the end result and says, "Ugh!" Such is the case with my homily for tomorrow morning. The reading is Matthew's telling of the Parable of the Talents. I have written a homily, I have done my homework, and still I look at it and am displeased. It is a good experience, I suppose. I can't have a brilliant homily every time, and when I am preaching every weekend someday soon, there will be lots of times when I have to say something even though I am not happy with what I have prepared. In these moments, preachers have to trust that the Holy Spirit is at work and that he will help us say something that is helpful to someone. Such is my prayer for tomorrow.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thesis Update

I finally submitted another major section of my thesis to my adviser today. The topic this time: The Aztecs.

This section was especially interesting to me. It dealt first with the Aztec Pantheon. There were, apparently, quite a number of gods who were responsible for the whole gamut of daily life in the Aztec Empire - rain gods, corn gods, gods for pregnant women, gods of the dead, and the sun god. These gods were a blood-thirsty lot, demanding animal sacrifice, blood sacrifice through bodily mutilation, and human sacrifice. While the reasons for human sacrifice are not fully understood, a quote from Kay Read's The Fleeting Moment: Cosmogony, Eschatology, and Ethics in Aztec Religion and Society helps make sense of the gruesome rituals. She speculates as to how a hypothetical Aztec philosopher might describe the role of human sacrifice.

We sacrifice humans because it is human blood which feeds the universe. Human blood feeds the universe because or myths and traditions tell us that it was divine blood which the gods used to make humans, and it must be human blood which feeds the gods. In this way, we re-create each other by feeding each other. If we did not, we humans and the cosmos would die of starvation. We know this is true because all living matter must eat, or death – which is inevitable anyway – would come even sooner. Therefore, it is the transforming of life into life by destructive acts which keeps life in motion.*

There was a despairing quality to the Aztec life. The world would inevitably be destroyed. I think it was this sense of immanent destruction which allowed the people to believe that Cortez was the god Quetzalcoatl returned. Quetzalcoatl’s return would mark the beginning of the end for them. In many ways, the arrival of Europeans was the beginning of the end. It makes me think that many natives accepted Christianity out of a sense of hopelessness. What did it matter whom they worshipped now that all of creation was screeching to a halt? Perhaps better, why not worship the God of the Europeans, as they have destroyed our world, and all that we once believed has now passed away.

I am now down to just a few more large revisions and the inclusion of some detail that is lacking in some areas. Things are looking good to complete it all before Christmas.

* Read, Kay A.. Source: Journal of Religious Ethics, 14 no 1 Spr 1986, p 113-138.

One of Our Own Makes the Paper

If you follow this blog, you know that the entire deacon class had made the paper over the course of this semester by writing reflections on the Sunday scriptures for the archdiocesan newspaper, the Catholic Spirit. A first theologian made mention in an even more prestigious publication, though.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press was recently at the seminary to do a profile of one of the members of our community. Their short story and video can be found here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

More politics.

So, I started reading Denver-Archbishop Charles Chaput's, OFM Cap., Render Unto Cæsar near the beginning of the year. I'm still making my way through it - I've got plenty of other things to do before devoting significant amounts of time to reading this book.

But, during my usual Wednesday morning lull between my holy hour and Morning Prayer (which is an hour later on Wednesdays than the rest of the weekdays), I decided to pick up his book once again.

It was a bit, oh how shall we say, off-putting. After proving that there has been significant anti-Catholicism in our nation's history (he proved this with an extensive quote from a Supreme Court Case report in which a justice speaks about previous rulings of the Supreme Court which were anti-Catholic), the good Archbishop continues:

Catholics - and I mean all of us, bishops and laypeople alike - need to admit that we've been too naive, too often, in our past political assumptions. American Catholics have taken part in good faith in a system that sometimes operates in bad faith. The Protestant theologian Stanley Hauerwas once warned that the great weakness of Christian witness in our time is that we preach as though we don't have enemies. But we do. In our legitimate hopes for a role in American life, Catholics have ignored an unpleasant truth: that there are active, motivated groups in modern American society that bitterly resent the Catholic Church and the Christian Gospel, and would like to silence both.
Many Catholics since Vatican II have recoiled almost instinctively from traditional images of the "church militant." But like it or not, that is exactly what we are - or should be. We are in a struggle for the souls of our people and our country. We ignore this at our own peril. We also fail as disciples. (p. 187)

At first I thought, "Wouldn't some of the guys of the house like to read this!" To a certain extent, I've been trained (by what, I'm not exactly sure) to be repulsed by such statements, or at least to disregard them. But, then I stepped back and thought about it for a second. It was then that so very quickly one of my high school friends came to mind.

One of my friends from HS lives in the cities here and he and I hang out once every few months. To put it simply, he is a staunch liberal when it comes to politics, and morality and economics and religion. Every time that we get together, he's always joking about how "we've got to take down the Catholic Church," and by "we" he means America. He also says, "You know, with John Paul II I had some hope for change in the Church and things seemed as though they could have continued to go well. When he died there was a great moment, a great opportunity. But then! Benedict! BENEDICT?! Oh, this will not do. You know, I thought there might be a chance for the Catholic Church to come around, but not anymore. Now, I have no reason to hope for any good to come from the Church. We've just got to destroy it."

Now, sure, to a certain extent he's joking. But his laughter as he says this is primarily arising from the fact that these really are his thoughts, he knows how outlandish they are, how contrary they are to my beliefs, and that he's saying them to my face. He and I can get along, despite our differences, and to a certain extent, I keep in contact with him because I hold out the hope for his conversion.

But getting back to Archbishop Chaput's point: it is true and evident to me that we are the Church militant, that we are in a struggle for the soul of America, and that there are those out there planning the Church's demise. Thanks be to God it'll never happen.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Late Night Fire Alarm! Late Night Fire Drill?

Before you begin this story, I should tell you that (if you read this whole post) you can watch the two videos at the end! Cool, huh?

The Saint Paul Seminary recently finished some re-wiring in both the administrative building as well as the residence. In the adminstrative section, it was computer and other technical updates. In its residence, among other things, the fire alarm system was updated.

As part of the process, the seminarians were asked to sign a form indicating that we had read the new fire-evacuation guidelines. Additionally, there was a fire drill announced and scheduled for last Wednesday morning (the picture on the right is intended to show us planning for our fire drill . . . cute, right?).

As usual, all went according to plan. The three teams that worked on our wiring completed their tasks on schedule, and the fire drill went off as planned. The only warning we had of potential problems occured the previous week - while the wiring crews were hard at work, one of the master-alarms was briefly triggerd and the seminary buildings, briefly, evacuated.

Thinking that all our wiring worries were behind us, the seminary settled into "business as usual" mode following our scheduled fire drill.

And there we were . . . it was somewhat past 10pm. I was in my room with another seminarian just about to pray Compline (night prayer) when the master-alarm for our fire-detection system sounded. Alarmed (no PUN intended), we headed for the exit.

And there we were . . . a group of seminarians and priests outside in the cold, dark night - fire alarms loudly ringing. Some seminarians had previously changed into shorts and t-shirts but no shoes, some were already wearing their pajamas, and others were still in street clothes.

This author personally guessed that it was an "unscheduled" test of the alarms to see that the seminarians really knew how to properly evacuate the building in an emergency, but then the University of Saint Thomas Campus Security and the Saint Paul Fire Department quickly showed up - their own alarms sounding - and raced into the seminary to find the cause of the action.

The good folks from campus security alerted us upon their arrival that they did not know why the alarms were sounding. They concluded that there was a "mishap" with the new wiring that has since been corrected; whew! No damage to report.

Check out the videos - courtesy of Deacon Jorge. This author was a little too "alarmed" that he forgot to bring his own camera with him.

Take care, -Jeremy

Monday, November 10, 2008


I have continued to make my almost daily walks in the neighborhoods of Saint Paul. During them, I do marvel at the briskness of the fall nights, the absence of cars and people on the streets, and the dark night sky, especially when it is clear. However, there is something that is yet lacking in the whole experience.

Well, perhaps lacking isn't the right word, given that what I dread is something that is present. Whether it's the sound of the very-seldom car driving by, or the sirens in the distance of the police car, or the rumble of cars on the freeway a little ways away, there's always background noise. The most persistent, however, is the constant "whoosh" of planes taking off and landing overhead.

Coming from a relatively small town - one of some 2200 people - I appreciate the evenings of going outside and there being the stillness, the absence of activity, the even clearer sky with stars shining brightly, and most of all the quiet of nature without admixture of man-made noise pollution.

There are many things which we seminarians fantasize about with the priesthood. Whether it be getting to know the families of our some-day parishes so well; whether it be saying a reverent mass with beautiful music; whether it be hunting with parishioners in the wild outdoors; there are many things we hope to enjoy as future priests. One small thing that I await is getting to pastor some cluster of small parishes and bask in the readily-available and boundless beauty of nature, without the admixture of urban steel, concrete and noise.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

St. Joseph Cathedral restoration

For many years the St. Joseph Cathedral has been undergoing different projects. Within the past ten years there have been three large projects. The chapel that was used for daily mass was converted into a parish hall, the old sacristy was converted into the daily mass/perpetual adoration chapel. I can honestly say that I have no idea what was in the space, which is now occupied by the sacristy. Over the past year and a half, plans have come to fruition to restore the main body of the cathedral to the original intentions of the architect Emmanuel Louis Masqueray. Masqueray was the architect for the Basillica of St. Mary in Minneapolis, the Cathedral of St. Paul (in St. Paul) and the chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas on the University of St. Thomas campus.

There is a long list of things to do, which include: bringing color back to the whole church, improving the sound system, re-wiring the entire church, getting the place temperature controlled so that the paint will retain it's beauty. A portion of the restoration was revealed this past Friday. So far two columns have been painted in a way to make them look like marble. The stations of the cross, which were originally done in a relief, are being painted as well. I will post updates and pictures as this process continues.

Saturday, November 08, 2008


There are firsts for everything and seminary has been a place where I have done many new things for the first time. Take, for example, this year's presidential election; it was my first time voting. I had never cared or really felt strongly about politics until I became Catholic, but since then I have considered it more and more.

In college I developed a "moderate" political identity without any affiliation to any party. Since my knowledge and understanding of the truth has been fortified by my Catholic faith, I have become increasingly more aware of the Church's pro-life identity. We are pro-life at the core. While it may seem tough for some to understand, it is really common sense. Morality must stay at the forefront of our philosophy. We must never give in to societal trends and movements which, as G.K. Chesterton noted, are usually the repeated errors on the path, while the Church is the constant teacher against even future errors.

Maybe I am a one issue voter, but I don't see it that way. Consider war, for instance. Certainly I see war as an issue that demeans the dignity of human life. The Pope himself attempted to dissuade President Bush from entering into armed conflict. War, however, can be justified under certain circumstances. There are other issues, though, that can never be justified for any reason. Abortion is one of them. What really is in contention is the hierarchy of life issues, and it is in this regard that the Church demands lines be drawn. For this reason, we have to continue to strive for the Truth, shedding the light of Christ and his Church to the millions of people who are in desperate need of it. We need to teach the truth unhindered by our desire not to offend people. That is not an option; there has to be something done to shake people out of apathy and selfishness.

Feast of the Basilica of Saint John Lateran

Little children are often wary of wading in water which is only waist deep. They are frightened when they approach waters of which they cannot feel or even see the bottom. Adults, as well, are rightly tentative about swimming in unfamiliar waters whose depth and dangers are unknown.

Even more fearful is flowing water — water which refuses to be still, water which rushes downstream and drags along with it whatever dares to enter into it.

This is the image that the angel gives to Ezekiel. The waters of the temple of the Lord are wide, flowing and tremendous. Wherever they flow, they bring life. Whatever enters into them is bound to be swept away. Nothing these waters touch remains unchanged.

Such is the case with one’s embarking upon the path of Christ. If one loses his life for the sake of the Gospel, he cannot keep but from being swept away. Deep into the life of the church, deep into the life of the world is he immersed.


These words are inscribed upon the Lateran Basilica in Rome, which is the feast we celebrate this Sunday: “Head and mother of all the churches of the city and the world.” It is such because it is not only a basilica in Rome but also the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome.

The mother church

Indeed, the Lateran Basilica, handed over to the church by the emperor Constantine in the early 300s, has long been the cathedral of the mother church — the mother diocese — of the whole world.

This one building represents for us the temple of the Lord. From it flow the life-giving waters, the gift of baptism and all the sacraments. Each of the sacraments provides us with the source from which we can receive the regeneration, refreshment and renewal needed to live the Christian life.

Indeed, sometimes the Lord’s temple can become a place filled with waste. As temples of the Holy Spirit, even our own bodies, our own lives can become weighted down, filthy and poisonous. In its members the church can become stagnant and lifeless, like the Dead Sea.

Yet the Lord always returns. He enters the temple to purify it. Jesus’ zeal for the Lord’s house is also his zeal for our souls. He pours out the life-giving waters which cleanse us of all that is dead. He purifies us with his grace which is always available to us in his church.

In celebrating the feast of the Basilica of St. John Lateran, we turn to our head and mother of the church universal. Living in his church, how can we help but be swept up and washed clean by the flood of his very own life, poured out into us? Listening to his word, receiving the sacraments and remaining faithful to his teaching we are refreshed, washed clean and made his dwelling, the temple of the Lord.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Let it Snow

Well, the white stuff is coming down. I will update this post throughout the day to track the first snow-fall of the year.

8:00 am

9:30 am-The flakes are a little bit bigger and wetter

It quit snowing after the 9:30 am picture and now it's just wet.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Recycled OT Assignment

In his book, The Everlasting Man, G. K. Chesterton argues that a review of history, especially ancient history, reveals four basic religious tendencies: God, the gods, the demons, and the philosophers. He describes “the gods” or mythology as “an attempt to reach the divine reality through the imagination alone.” This paganism is “a great deal of good nonsense” and has a “certain superficiality and even insincerity” to it. The demons are a desperate impulse that emerges during rationalistic ages that drives men “to the darker powers when dealing with practical problems.” The slaughter of children is a prominent mark of these advanced cultures, and Carthage is Chesterton’s prime example. The philosophers are the number mystics, skeptics, and court magicians. They concern themselves with the acquisition of knowledge and wisdom. Ancient history has something to say to us because these tendencies of the ancients remain with us today, but more importantly because it shows that two thousand years ago we saw something entirely new in history. The tumultuous record of Israel’s life among other ancient peoples ought to give us an appreciation of that Church which successfully fused the ancient tendencies of popular piety and rational inquiry with faith in the one God.