These words conclude the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It notes the end of something difficult and the beginning of something new. The new guys have moved in, orientation is under way for them as well, and here I am. No big responsibilities to take care of, just get my room in order and take care of some logistical matters and life will may be back to normal. New responsibilities will take shape in the coming days and pretty soon we will be in class and beginning a whole new academic year. There is a certain amount of anticipation to the new year. We have a chance to meet the new seminarians as well as the new teachers and as always to hear what each of us were up to this summer in our different ministries and apostolic work. It is good to be back and please pray for us as we begin a new year.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Yesterday we celebrated the Martyrdom of John the Baptist, or as it is remembered in many of the liturgical texts, the Beheading of John the Baptist. In honor of this celebration I offer you a story.
As an undergraduate seminarians, I had a friend who was preparing to enter a Benedictine Abby in Illinois. While most seminarians would spend much of their time daydreaming about what their first Mass would look like, my friend spent his daydreaming about his final profession of vows, at which time he would receive his new religious name. Sometimes, when several of us were gathered together, we would look at the copy of the sanctoral calendar (the calendar listing the dates of the Church's various celebrations) in the back of our breviaries and suggest names. As often as not, this was done in jest - and suggestions would range from Brother Claire and Brother Ursula to Brother Bruno or Brother Finbar. Other times we would suggest that he take a name like those of the Carmelites - Brother Joseph Maria Goretti of Jesus Christ of the Nativity. The whole game reached its climax one evening, though, when it was suggested that he become Brother Beheading of John the Baptist.
Today, he is a Dominican with the name Michael Dominic. Regardless, I celebrated his patronal feast yesterday.
8/30/2008 08:30:00 AM
Friday, August 29, 2008
This is a short appetizer piece of what will be carried out in the weeks ahead.
All of the new Pre-theologians and all memebers of this year's Theology One class arrived at the Saint Paul Seminary yesterday. After two days of meeting and working with my new classmates and the new Pre-theologians, I believe that this author can safely write that I am the least of the seminarians of the Saint Paul Seminary.
My guess is that the prayers of the People of God are being answered. We have many new seminarians; these fellas have extremely varied backgrounds: some have been strong Catholics for thirty years and others converted to The Faith less than three years ago.
All of them are inspiring examples of the Christian Faith, the Christian Life, and Christian Charity. I count myself as fortunate and highly blessed to be in the company of these great men.
We (the Theology One class and new Pre-theologians) are off to a short retreat but we'll be back early next week. I hope to introduce some of them to you, our readership, shortly after that time.
This weekend, I plan on praying in thanksgiving to Christ for the call and generous response of my brother seminarians; I look forward to learning from all of them in their example and knowledge of Christianity.
Take care, -Jeremy
8/29/2008 10:27:00 PM
Thursday, August 28, 2008
One of the things that my father and I have done for the past several summers (sometimes with my brothers, sometimes not) is make an excursion to the Black Hills in an effort to catch the wily rainbow trout. We kept with this tradition yesterday, though with the slightly irregular inclusion of a visit to the optometrist. Nevertheless, by the time we got to the water, there still remained several hours of fishing. As darkness began to descend over the Black Hills, we headed toward Deadwood where we ate beef, because, in keeping with tradition, we had failed to catch a single fish. All in all it was a lovely day.
8/28/2008 03:20:00 PM
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Interestingly or not, near the end of my assignment in Rochester for the summer, I was asked to visit a parishioner's farm for there would be a group of people working on preparing donated goods for export to Haiti. Apparently, some very good Catholics in Rochester started up their own non-profit organization called the Sacred Heart Haiti Mission. They round up various non-perishable goods and send them en masse to the Missionaries of Charity in Haiti to distribute to the extremely poor there. Quite the praiseworthy endeavor and accomplishment.
Well, anyhow, I hadn't really heard all that much about the Mission and I wanted to go and simply support the people and their endeavors, so I went out there. Now, remember, when I do such things - when I do most everything - I am in my clerics. So, I arrived and they were yet waiting for a full semi-truck load of goods to arrive to be stored at this farm as a receiving station so it could be packed later. The pretense that they had asked me to visit under was to bless the objects, and that's really all they wanted me to do.
This was so much the case that when the truck finally arrived and the unloading began, one man (who was probably in his sixties) whispered to me, "You don't need to help." When I shrugged his suggestion off, he repeated, "Don't help." Now, with utmost respect for the man, but consider the situation. There were probably 15-20 people there to help, among them about three men in their 50s, 60s, maybe even 70s, and numerous women. Here I am, a healthy 26 year-old man (from their vantage-point, perhaps "boy" would be more appropriate!), so I am not just going to sit around and watch these people work.
Well, so we all finally finish unloading after an hour and a half of trips between semi and barn. Then, there's the (apparently) customary cinnamon rolls and water in thanksgiving for the assistance. Well, as we're all sitting around getting ready to leave, I have an opportunity to sit and talk with the husband and wife who run this whole operation. Of the various things they tell me, the speak exasperatingly of the need to raise money to send the supplies they receive. Apparently, it costs some $5,000 for a single container (about the size of a semi) to be shipped to Haiti.
Before I continue (and get to the "chalices, not calluses" part) I want to speak in sad, but somewhat true and meaningful generalizations, perhaps even stereotypes. Sometimes, those who promote such causes - causes for the poor, causes for social justice - have a tendency to minimize, how do you say it, eternal perspectives. Perhaps piety and devotion might fit in here, but not quite. Neither does "other-worldly perspectives" quite fit. Well, anyhow.
As the conversation began to draw to a close, the wife who co-founded the organization, said to me, "You know, Father [sic], I have to tell you. When I was younger, my brother became a priest, and before he was ordained, he came home for a visit and all of us had to go out and do chores, but my mother said that all of us should go out, but my brother-the-seminarian couldn't. 'He shouldn't do manual labor. He's got to save his hands for the Eucharist.' And, you know, seeing you working today, well, I think you shouldn't have been. Father, you've got to save your hands for the Eucharist."
Whoa! That was about the last thing I was expecting, and I was speechless. I didn't know what to say. If anything, I expected something like, "Seeing you working today, I'm so glad those olden days are gone." To be honest, it was a bit refreshing. Aside from some members of the hierarchy, most of the people I have run into (whether in person, by video or by reading) who push for social-justice issues and the causes of the poor lack a sense of piety and of the elevation of the temporal to the eternal by way of the sacred. This woman, though, had an uncommon (not to say perfect) integration which was impressive, nay, edifying.
8/27/2008 08:04:00 PM
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
επισυναγωγης - This nifty little word was one of the major foci of my homily today.
But, it didn't become the focus until I had first highlighted the fact that Saint Paul tells us not to be "alarmed" or "shaken out of your mind" by various people preaching false gospels or false traditions. "We can benefit from Saint Paul's words today," said I (okay, this is a paraphrase), "especially when we hear popular people, sometimes popular politicians making odd claims that do not resonate with the traditions handed down to us. Indeed, the Church may have differed on when the soul enters the body of the baby within the mother's womb, but it has always decried abortion of the growing baby from the moment of conception." Of course, the word "conception" may not have always been used, but the substance of the teaching would be the same. A helpful little note on this whole issue can be read here by His Excellency Archbishop Charles Chaput (and his auxiliary bishop James Conley). BTW (ugh, I hate those shortened... whatever you call them; By the way), the good Archbishop has a new book out which is apparently receiving quite the praise and is quite worthwhile: Render Unto Caesar.
Anyhow, so on with the homily. That Greek word at the beginning is pronounced: ep-ee-soon-a-go-gace. Translated, it is "assembly." Usually, it is used not only in reference to a group of people who happen to be gathered, but Biblically refers specifically to the elect of God being gathered for liturgical ceremony. For us, this is the Mass. Oddly, Saint Paul in his Second Letter to the Thessalonians (from which we read today) implies that when Christ comes again at his final, second coming, we shall be "assembled" (επισυναγωγης) with him. It shall be liturgy; it shall be the Mass.
This is a fairly popular belief in the history of our Church that heaven will be the Mass, lived for eternity. Anyhow. So, I talked about this word "assembly," "qahal" from Hebrew. I talked about Moses and the "assembly" of the people when he came down from Mount Sinai after receiving the Ten Commandments. They held an assembly, made sacrifice, and then Moses sprinkled the people with blood to ratify the covenant thus offered by the LORD. We, too, are assembled and sprinkled with blood as we come to Mass and receive the Lord's very own body and his blood. We are sprinkled and our interior man is cleansed, "the inside of the cup is washed." We prepare ourselves at every Mass and we anticipate that final coming of Christ when we shall be finally cleansed and gathered with him, as his assembly.
Well, apparently I spoke too much about the assembly and the people who gather. Afterwards in the sacristy, a good priest friend (whose empty rectory at his second parish I'm staying at) derided me, "Oh, you know what I'm going to be singing all day! 'Gather your people, O Lord.' and 'Gather us in, the lost and forsaken. Gather us in, the blind and the lame...'" If you didn't read it or don't remember, these songs (the former by Bob Hurd and the latter by Marty Haugen) have received their just desert from our very own Dcn. Tyler.
8/26/2008 09:40:00 AM
Monday, August 25, 2008
One of the things I have been looking forward to since my ordination has been the privilege of baptizing two of my nephews. On Sunday, gathered with their parents, godparents, grandparents and other friends and family I baptized Elijah and Samuel in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. They were my first. I hope it stuck.
8/25/2008 07:34:00 PM
Sunday, August 24, 2008
For many school has already started, and in another week and a half we will undertaking a new semester. As my time at home dwindles to a close I cannot help but talk about the high school that I went to. Bishop Thomas O'Gorman High School was founded in the early 1960s and it replaced the Cathedral High school. Over the past three years, plans have been in the works to renovate the school and this past winter the demolition began. They even adjusted the school year to end early in the spring so that the construction workers could have enough time to complete the task. So far two new academic wings have been built, a new football field, and a new eight lane track have been installed. I have a couple of friends who work there as teachers and I hope to get in sometime this week to see the new place. Some of the readers may be wondering if there is a connection to the seminary. To simply put it: yes. In my graduating class three of us went into seminary formation. The year after that, three more. Recently, there have been more and more young men entering seminary after graduating from Bishop Thomas O'Gorman High School. I hope and pray that the mission of my beloved high school will continue to produce many vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
8/24/2008 06:21:00 PM
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Perhaps you've heard of Fr. Jean-Pierre de Caussade's Abandonment to Divine Providence. It's a work of spiritual theology which I have not yet read. Nevertheless, I have thought of it a number of times. Perhaps you know of situations in which you're not completely familiar with something or someone's particular take on something, but you yet have a sufficient grasp to understand the general concept. Well, this is the case for me with Fr. de Caussade's Abandonment. I often think of it when I am being reminded (or reminding myself) to let go, and abandon my own soul.
This past summer (and perhaps for long into the future) de Caussade's Abandonment came into my mind often during the liturgy, during Mass. Usually, it would be during the Eucharistic Prayer, and even more specifically, during the words of consecration - I remember this because I was usually kneeling when it would come to mind. As an aside, why is it that sometimes the most mundane or even absurd things fly into our minds during the words of consecration? Well, anyhow.
The particular reason for needing to abandon myself to providence was that I wouldn't let go of the homily I had just given. Oftentimes, without attempting to, I would find myself thinking about various ways in which I said something wrong, or ways in which I could have made my point more clearly, or the simple fact that I should not have been playing with the ribbons on the lectionary as I spoke, or whatever. Only once or twice was I distracted by hoping that I hadn't offended people. But because of all of this, I continually needed to remind myself, "Gregory. It's done. It's over. It's in the past. You cannot change it." And then somehow I would recall de Caussade's book to mind.
I think it's quite true, though, and perhaps this is much of the work of the Christian way. Oftentimes we do things we wish we hadn't done. Sometimes we fear the unforseeable repercussions of our actions. Sometimes we wish we had done this or that better. Whatever the case may be, it is helpful to be reminded that the past is the past. I can only account for the present. Sometimes that involves righting the past, but perhaps more often it involves letting go of the past and simply entrusting it all to God, being ever more responsible and deliberate in the present. Though he is speaking of the future, it applies as well to the past: "Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil" (Matthew 26:34).
8/23/2008 08:57:00 PM
Friday, August 22, 2008
With the quote below, I don't mean to denigrate in any way the institution that I have come to love. In the final analysis, I think it ought to be viewed as a compliment. Prudence, and thereby pastoral ministry, requires adequate formation of the intellect.
I have finally taken the initiative to find an empty rectory in my diocese and seclude myself (more or less) so I can do some things that I've been meaning to do for a long time. Perhaps I shouldn't be, but I'm also taking the luxury of allowing myself some time to read a book by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, that I was given upon my diaconate ordination. As I was reading last night, I found him elaborating an experience which is similar to my own experience. I appreciated his insight which helps to explain my own experience. What experience is this? Let's let the Cardinal elaborate in his autobiographical Milestones: Memoirs 1927-1977, English publication from Ignatius Press, p. 48. He's speaking of his experience in theology school in Munich around the age of 20 in the very recent aftermath of World War II.
The wonderful thing was that we could use the castle's beautiful park, which was divided into one area laid out in the French style and another with a garden in the English style. I wandered through this park over and over again, immersed in all sorts of thoughts. This is where the decisions of those years took shape, and also where I tried to think through and appropriate all of the knowledge imparted to us during the lectures. The atmosphere in the house was more reserved than in Freising. We did not have the spontaneous camaraderie I had known there. The extreme mixture of types was too great for this. Here there were students from all over Germany, particularly from the north of the country, and also doctoral candidates who were already quite advanced in their work. Intellectual concerns were dominant here, while in Freising the common will to be laboring soon in the care of souls united us in a much more direct way. Primary stress was put on the lectures, and these are what shaped the area of common interests and the exchange of questions and answers.
8/22/2008 10:36:00 AM
Thursday, August 21, 2008
In both high school and undergrad college, I was a member of several teams: sports, clubs, ministry. Over the course of our time together, my teammates and I would become close, good friends. We would enjoy working with one another and relaxing with one another as well.
It was not uncommon to find that, when it was time to re-organize the team at the beginning of the next academic year, there was a hesistation and even some resistence to bringing on new members to the team. "Our team last year was so great - we had such a good group," people would often say. Though I must admit that I, at times, shared some of these sentiments, I tried to always have a postive and forward-moving attitude when bringing on new members to the team.
Some weeks ago, His Excellency John F. Kinney, bishop of the Diocese of Saint Cloud, requested that all of his seminarians meet with him for supper at his residence. This annual event is intended to be both a chance for the rookie seminarians to meet the veterans (and vice versa) as well as a send-off to the seminary academic year.
All through last year, I loved the fraternity of the Diocese of Saint Cloud seminarians. My brother seminarians make such a great group that I - in my weakness - could not imagine the team being any better.
I was thrilled to learn that the Diocese of Saint Cloud had accepted SEVEN NEW SEMINARIANS for this coming year! That brings our numbers up from ten seminarians to seventeen! In one year, the size of our team nearly doubled! That's awesome, incredible, fantasic! Of these seven new seminarians, two will be coming to the Saint Paul Seminary, three to Saint John Vianney Seminary in Saint Paul and two to Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Winona.
I am embarassed to admit that this thrill was paired, for me, with a worry that our team would "just not be the same." Why is it that one would feel that way? Longing for the "good old days?" Staying in one's "comfort zone?"
Back to the event at the Bishop's Residence. I was able to meet all of the new members of the team and - as you may have guessed - I was so happy! Our new seminarians have diverse backgrounds and all love Jesus and want to help the Church.
MY LESSON: The Acts of the Apostles and more than one of Saint Paul's letters address the growth of the early Christian Community. It can be hard to let go of the familiar and comfortable, but one must remember that "it is not my team." The Christian Community is not about me being comfortable with my long-time friends . . . dare I write it as: we must shape the circle ever wider.
I look forward to working with my new brother-seminarians in the next year and beyond; I also look forward to meeting all of the new seminarians at the Saint Paul Seminary who will arrive next week.
Take care, -Jeremy
8/21/2008 09:10:00 AM
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Recently, I've had some questions come my way that were not the usual questions and were a bit more difficult to answer. After speaking with each of my interlocutors, I ended up feeling what C. S. Lewis tried to describe in his essay, The Weight of Glory. The weight, for Lewis, is the duty to attempt to uphold the truth, while making it accessible to others and bearing with their weaknesses all at the same time. In saying this, I don't mean to demean my interlocutors, but it's only natural when someone is trying to learn something new or understand something that is familiar but which they've never understood.
The first was a conversation with my eight year-old niece over the phone. She called when she was talking with her folks. You see, she is disgusted by blood and guts. So, she cringes at the idea of drinking someone's blood, and therefore at the idea of communion. So, I had to find a way to explain to her that it really is blood, but what is in the chalice doesn't look, taste, feel, smell, or sound like blood. For some reason, that never consoled her. And here's the difficulty, and maybe some of you parents are very familiar with this situation: You want them to receive communion and the consequent graces, you don't want to turn them away from it, but you also want them to understand the truth of the matter. So, when my niece kept coming back to, "So, is it really blood?" I didn't want to say something which she may later discover is a lie, yet I had to find a way of carefully answering, "Yes, it really is blood."
The best I could do was only slightly abate her disgust by saying that this is a one-in-a-kind miracle. With other things, they always look and feel like what they actually are, but the Eucharist is different. Jesus knows that it is not good to drink another's blood, except for this one time when we eat his body or drink his blood. So, he doesn't have it look like his real body or his real blood. He wants to give us his body and blood like he did when he gave himself totally for us on the cross. But the cross was only once, and it is in the past. So, for us to share in his total gift of himself, he gave us his gift of the cross in the Eucharist. I don't think that took away all her problems, but it did enough that she yet received communion the next day on Sunday.
The other came from someone asking about whether "for you Catholics," do you think the pope will ever let women have more responsibility in ministry or let priests be married? To a certain extent, I was foolish not to see what lay behind these, and I was even more foolish not to ask why she wanted to know. Yet, if we always only ask, "What is at stake for you in this question?" we might avoid ever having to answer the question, and then we avoid ever coming to the truth, or at least presenting the truth such that the other person might encounter it (Him).
Anyhow. I answered both questions: "Women already have a greater share in the work of the hierarchical church, but they will never be able to exercise that ministry which is specific to priests. John Paul II finally made explicit what Catholics had always believed, and he made it clear that this belief was a definitive belief which will never change. Insofar as married priests go, it's possible. In fact, it exists already in the Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church. Yet, bishops have almost always been celibate and are celibate everywhere today. The tradition of celibate clergy is an ancient one. In Protestant communities (where they have married ministers and female ministers) they are experiencing a shortage of ministers. Celibacy itself is praiseworthy. So, do I think it will it change? No." Her response was long and elaborate, but eventually it became clear what the real issue was: the sexual abuse crisis.
Looking back at the conversation, it was difficult. The media, in general, has rightly portrayed some of what happened. Yet, the coverage gave (and yet gives) impressions which are flatly untrue. First, this is a widespread problem among most priests. Second, the cause is the law of celibacy. Third, it would all be solved by "new models of ministry," i.e., married clergy and female priests. Fourth, the problem of sexual abuse is a problem almost solely for Catholic clergy. And on and on. In the end, I discovered the best thing I could do was simply listen, uphold the integrity of the Catholic Faith and attempt to witness with my own devotion to the goodness and the truth of what it is I am committing my life to. Assuredly, God will take care of the rest.
8/20/2008 08:48:00 AM
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Just a word about mean-spirited jokes.
When my friend and I first conceived of the idea to travel to Denver, we deliberately failed to tell a mutual friend our plans. This friend, you see, is extremely fond of Denver, and we thought it would be novel to not speak a word about our journey until we had arrived in the city whereupon we would send her a picture of us with the Rocky Mountains in the background, thus eliciting a priceless response about the fact that she had not been invited to join us. In this regard we were correct. Her response was magnificent. For every action, however, there is an equal and opposite reaction. I cannot help but think it only fitting that it rained every day of our vacation.
The rain dampened our shoes but not our spirits as we traipsed about 16th Street on day 1. On day 2, it was a bit annoying to traverse the entire Denver Zoo with flimsy umbrellas only to discover that the majority of the animals were hiding indoors and avoiding the inclement weather. It was an utter disappointment, however, to discover on day 3 that we would not be permitted to ascend Pike's Peak due to rain at the bottom and snow at the top. Fog covered the heights, thus prohibiting us from even seeing the mountain, and frightening costs prevented us from meandering across the abyss that is Royal Gorge. The good news is that the weather was quite pleasant - a spring-like seventy degrees - as we sat for hours in our stuffy vehicle for the drive home.
You may draw your own conclusions as to the moral of this story.
8/19/2008 08:37:00 AM
Monday, August 18, 2008
Saint Paul is here and standing! He arrived here at 8:14am on Friday, 15 August in the year of Our Lord 2008 - the Solemnity of the Assumption of Saint Mary. Installation was completed shortly before 11am.
My thanks to Ben for keeping us up-to-date with the finalization of the construction on the pillar which now holds our original, custom-made statue of Saint Paul. The statue was designed by Angelo Gherardi in Park Ridge, Illinios - very near Chicago. The sculptor was Franco Dolfi - an Italian artist whose studio is in Tuscany. There were many donors who contributed to this project; the principle donors are a husband-wife team: John and Kay (pictured here with some of their family members). This author had previously reported that these benefactors had chosen to remain anonymous; please accept both my apology as well as my retraction and correction of this point.
Now, say and comment as you will, but this author was so excited to have the Saint Paul statue come that I had a hard time going to bed the night before. No later than 7am, we already had crews, seminary staff, and onlookers gathering in the courtyard in anticipation of the arrival of Saint Paul.
During this interim time, our crews tested all of the machinery and triple-checked that all were ready to execute the plans. So, here was the idea: 1) the statue would arrive and be unloaded into the lot to the East of the seminary; 2) the statue would be attached to a crane; 3) the crane would lift the statue and transfer it directly to the pillar - 170 feet away.
So, this crane was brought in. This author has never seen anything like this! The crane can extend 200 feet and lift this 4,500 pound statue from the parking area of the seminary all the way to the far side of the courtyard - that's 170 feet - with precision accuracy. To give you a sense of how high this is, check out this picture of the first trial run of the crane behind the Metropolitan Cross.
On a personal note, you may recall that throughout this series, A CONSTRUCTIVE SUMMER, this author has been asking all of the crews to let me ride, drive, or even just sit in their very impressive machines; thus far, all crews have turned me down but not today!
That day, I was able to gain permission from the operator (pictured on the left) of the large crane to let me sit in the control booth. I did have strict instructions not to touch anything, but (in any case) I now FINALLY have success in getting (at least) inside the heavy machinery; I was inside this, the very machine that would bring our statue of Saint Paul to its pillar. Pictured on the left is the real pilot of the machine; I am on the right . . . a little too excited for the situation. Then came the statue! It took a while for our crews to unpack the statue and safely prepare to lift the statue nearly 170 feet in the air. This took much longer than I thoght it would, but as this is an original work, a one-of-a-kind, damaging the statue in any way was obviously not an option. Father Beaudet was very excited to be the first person to get a good look at the statue. Prior to the arrival of the statue, he was entertaining those gathered with background details on the life of Saint Paul, as well as his usual "priestly humor."
Then, DEFYING GRAVITY: our statue was lifted high toward the pillar. This author can testify that, though there was great excitment at this point, there were many very nervous faces in the crowd - no room for any mistakes here. Please keep in mind that this was on Friday, 15 August - the Assumption of Saint Mary: one of the onlookers jokingly commented: "Hey, I thought today was Mary's assumption."
Our crews then lowered the statue into place - again, much longer a process than this author would have thought. I was very impressed with the precision of the crane and also with the patience and skill of the crews. In the middle picture below, our Director of Spiritual Formation, Father Paul Sirba, managed to run up to the rooftop to observe the statue's installation from above.
Interesting story: just before Saint Paul arrived, one of the crew members asked, "What was Saint Paul known for? I mean what did he do?" I tried to hide my (mild) shock that someone would not know all about Saint Paul. However, seeing this as a chance to evangelize, I explained that much the of the New Testament (apart from the Gospels) was written by Saint Paul; I also began to explain his background and conversion to Christianity. At that point - to my great surpise - this crew-member responded, "Wait, I thought that was Saul!" Thrilled, I said, "Ah, so you did go to Sunday school . . . that's the same guy!"
Take care, -Jeremy
8/18/2008 07:00:00 AM
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Perhaps by virtue of some innate genetic desire for belonging and intimacy, it seems that the first question one is asked after introducing oneself and admitting one's place of origin (for Catholic Clergy, to note one's diocese is sufficient) is "Do you know N.?" As far as I can tell, everyone does it. On my trip to Denver, I have not been disappointed in this regard.
Yesterday, while attending Mass for the Holy Day, I met a local priest assigned as the associate pastor at Risen Savior Catholic Church. He has been ordained a short period of time, but the people adore him. When I introduced myself, he was quick to ask my diocese, and to remind me that his Archbishop was once the Bishop of my own diocese. Then, he asked the inevitable question, "Do you know Fr. M and Fr. A?"
"Of course I do," I responded, "I had lunch with them just a few days ago. Do you know M.R.?"
"Yes," he responded, "We did our spirituality year together. He's a great guy. How do you know him?"
And so it goes.
As I suggested earlier, this same sort of conversation is replayed at nearly every introduction I experience. Perhaps it is just small talk - a way to avoid awkward pauses in the first meeting as we size one another up. More likely, though, it seems to me, that this sort of conversation really tries to communicate the idea that we are not so different, you and I. We are somehow bound to one another. I wonder if perhaps this desire to be bound to one another doesn't speak, at a deeper level, to the value of Christian community. We are bound. We share, as St. Paul reminds us, "one body and one Spirit . . . one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." (Eph. 4:4-6)
8/17/2008 08:57:00 AM
Saturday, August 16, 2008
China and the Vatican have struggled to work comfortably together. As such, I have become curious to know how China hosting the 2008 Summer Olympics would work from the eye of the Vatican and the Church.
According to the website for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (http://www.usccb.org/), Pope Benedict said: "I deeply hope that it [this year's Olympics] will offer the international community a valid example of co-existence among people of the most diverse backgrounds with respect for their common dignity."
Catholic News Service (http://www.catholicnews.com/) reported on their website that, according to their source UCA News (an Asian church news agency), Beijing invited two Catholic bishops from outside China-proper to the opening Olympic ceremony; those two bishops were Bishop John Tong Hon (Coadjutor of Hong Kong) and Bishop Jose Lai Hung-seng (Bishop of Macau). Both of these areas are now special administrative regions of China.
CNS further reports that China did not invite an official representative of the Holy See.
This author was unable to find documentation of the current "situation on the ground" for Catholic olympians in China. Please comment in response to this post on information of which you are aware.
In terms of current ability of Catholics to practice, one independent website (www.Catholic.net) is reporting that there was an increase in arrests of underground Catholics leading up to the Olympics.
Catholic News Agency is reporting on their website (www.CatholicNewsAgency.com) that Bishop Peter Fang Jianping, Co-adjutor of the Diocese of Tangshan, was chosen to be one of the final torchbearers leading up to the start of the Olympics in Beijing.
Please permit this author to editorialize by writing that while this is a very welcome sign from the government of China, it should be noted that Bishop Jianping was ordained a bishop in 2000 without the approval of the Holy See, though the Vatican did legitimize his status as a bishop in 2002.
Let us pray for the continued growth of the Church in China. Let us also pray for their health and safety.
Take care, -Jeremy
8/16/2008 02:42:00 PM
Friday, August 15, 2008
Today is the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and is a holy day of obligation - so be sure that you find your way to a Catholic Church near you today if you have not already.
Interestingly, I led a retreat for high-school students this past week and three of them asked me about the Assumption. The exact words of their question were: "So, did Mary actually die or not?"
Note: our original design, custom statue of Saint Paul was installed today - look for the story and photos in Monday's blog; let's let today be all about Saint Mary.
Perhaps the most famous poem and soliloquy in the Bible is the Magnificat (Song of Mary) in the Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ According to Saint Luke 1:46-55. It is similar to the Song of Hannah found in the First Book of Samuel (that is 1 Samuel 2:1-10).
As this is such a beautiful song spoken by our Blessed Mother, I encourage you to look it up (Luke 1:46-55) and read it - the seminarians and priests recite it EVERY DAY during our Evening Prayer. Below, I have placed some poetic-song renderings of the Magnificat that, though not as pure and beautiful as the original, give glory to God.
- - - - - - - -
Poem One - (Amazing Grace)
My soul proclaims the Lord, my God;
my spirit sings God's praise,
Who looks on me, and lifts me up,
that gladness fills my days.
For those who fear the Holy One,
God's mercy shall not die,
Whose strong, right arm puts down the proud,
and lifts the lowly high.
All nations now will share my joy,
for gifts God has outpoured!
This lowly one had been made great,
I magnify the Lord.
Poem Two - (Wild Mountain Thyme)
My soul is filled with joy,
as I sing to God my savior;
You have looked upon Your servant,
You have visited Your people.
Refrain: And holy is Your name,
through all generations!
Ever lasting is Your mercy
to the people You have chosen,
And holy is Your name.
I am lowly as a child,
but I know from this day forward,
That my name will be remembered
for all will call me blessed. [Refrain]
I proclaim the pow'r of God;
You do marvels for Your servants,
Though you scatter the proud-hearted,
and destroy the pow'r of princes. [Refrain]
Poem Three - (Raquel 8 7 8 7 D)
(This is not on the Magnificat but is rather a brief synopsis of the life of Jesus and Saint Mary and asking for her continued prayers and intercession; this was an original work commissioned for the Summer 2007 tour of the National Catholic Youth Choir - their theme for their 2007 Summer tour was "My Soul Magnifies the Lord.")
Mary, first among believers,
trusting in the angel's word,
You consented and, conceiving,
became mother of your God.
Mother now of all believers,
give our fragile faith increase.
My we, trusting in God's promise,
doubts and useless fears release.
Mary, first among the exiles,
seeking refuge in the night,
You left home with spouse and infant,
fleeing Herod's sword in fright.
Mother now of all the exiles,
give them sleep without alarm;
give them clothing, food, and shelter,
keep them safe and free from harm.
Mary, first among disciples,
list'ning, learning from your Son,
You held dear His words and actions,
pond'ring each, forgetting none.
Mother now of all disciples,
help us listen day by day.
Open to the Spirit's prompting,
help us follow Jesus' way.
Mary first among the suffering,
standing, bowed, beneath the cross,
You knew all the pain and anguish
of oppression, grief, and loss.
Mother now of all the suff'ring
let us show compassion's face.
Let the victims of injustice know,
through us, God's love and grace.
Mary, first among the blessed,
robed in Heaven's beauty bright,
You rejoice with saints and angels
in your Son's resplendent light!
Mother now of all the blessed,
keep your pilgrim people strong!
Keep us faithful, 'till we join you,
praising God in endless song!
- - - - - -
Saint Mary, pray for us, intercede for us.
Take care, -Jeremy
8/15/2008 11:20:00 AM
While some might argue that I have already spent my summer traveling, especially considering my World Youth Day pilgrimage, I was still quick to acquiesce when a friend from high school who recently moved home invited me to spend a few days of vacation with him in Denver, Colorado. I write from there now.
I don't now the population of the city, but it seems quite large by my standards, and has all the amenities of big cities, including big box stores, countless Starbucks locations, sports arenas, and various suburbs. The public transit is superb, and the ornamentation of the city quite tasteful. Many of the streets remind me of the well-treed corridors of St. Paul. Unique to Denver, though, is the view of the Rocky Mountains off to the west. I am not all that partial to mountains, but they truly are majestic.
Today brought my friend and I to the 16th Street Mall, the Capital Building, and the Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Denver dedicated to the patronage of the Immaculate Conception. Tomorrow remains unplanned as yet, but Saturday will likely find us in Colorado Springs climbing Pike's Peak and risking our lives over the depths of Royal Gorge. On Sunday, after Mass, we begin the long trek home.
I had hoped that as I finished writing this, some great insight would have occurred to me. It hasn't. Maybe it is sufficient to say that I am enjoying a bit of summer rest.
8/15/2008 11:16:00 AM
Thursday, August 14, 2008
I left Eagle Butte today. Unlike times past, this departure was not particularly emotional for me. It wasn't as though I didn't like the assignment. I loved it. I seems, though, that I am finally growing used to the fact that as a member of the diocesan clergy, I am something of a transient. There were no tears - they have shed enough of those over the departure of the sisters to worry too much about a short-timer like me. But, there was a sense of excitement. I am leaving in order to complete my final year of studies before coming home for good to serve God's people - my people - as a priest of Jesus Christ. As I look ahead, I think this will be a year for wrapping up and moving on. I am revving to go.
8/14/2008 08:59:00 AM
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Indeed, Jeremy. A little pressed for time as I try to escape in a few days for a much-needed, end-of-summer vacation, I present some pictures of the progress on the Saint Paul statue...albeit with less commentary than my more dedicated (read: loquacious) brother from Saint Cloud:
At this stage, the exterior pieces have been attached to the concrete frame, and the dirt from the pit replaced and tamped down.
Fr. Ben Little
8/13/2008 10:27:00 AM
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Now that the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments just approved with its Recognitio the new English translation of the Order of the Mass, the USCCB's Committee on Divine Worship released the text online for purpose of study, as well as preparation and catechesis. There are a number of significant changes. I won't list them all, but below is a table with a significant number of them, comparing the current translation and the future translation to be used. The whole document can be viewed at the USCCB's site: The Order of Mass.
All in all, the translation is pretty good. Many people will yet quarrel over whether it's bulky, or whether it's not yet literal enough (there are some areas that ignore the literal translation of the Latin, especially at the beginning of the Communicantes). Yes, it will be awkward for a little while until we get used to saying, "and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary." But it is, overall, a great improvement in being faithful to the Latin text.
One point of personal interest: I am very happy that the last Memorial Acclamation of the current English was not included in this version, and hopefully will not be permitted by some future version. I know, I know. "Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again," is perhaps the most popular version, and it's so short, and so many people like it. Well, here's my thought on the issue. We as Catholics believe in the Real Presence of Christ's body and blood under the appearance of Bread and Wine. And we traditionally believe that this happens for each separately after the priest finishes the words over each. So, as soon as he has finished the words over the bread, it becomes body, and likewise with the wine. Well, the Memorial Acclamation comes just after this. Christ was just made present under both "species" and is now really present in the way par excellence, this side of heaven. With the first three Acclamations, we speak directly to Christ in the second person, "You have set us free; we proclaim Your death; Dying You destroyed our death." With that fourth version, we speak not to Christ but about Christ, seemingly to one another. So Jesus is just made present and then with this last formulation, we ignore him! What is up with that? Hence, my pleasure in the last option's omission.
Enough said. Now it's time to start preparing for implementing it.
And also with you.
And with your spirit.
I confess . . . that I have sinned . . . through my fault; and I ask . . . .
I confess . . . that I have greatly sinned . . . through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault; therefore I ask . . .
May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life.
May almighty God have mercy on us and lead us, with our sins forgiven, to eternal life.
Glory to God in the highest,
Glory to God in the highest,
We believe in one God,
I believe in one God,
Pray, brethren (brothers and sisters), that our sacrifice may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father.
Pray, brethren (brothers and sisters), that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father.
The Lord be with you,
The Lord be with you.
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of power and might. Heaven and earth are full . . .
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts. Heaven and earth are full . . .
Eucharistic Prayer I
We come to you, Father, with praise and thanksgiving, through Jesus Christ your Son.
Father, accept this offering from your whole family. Grant us your peace in this life, save us from final damnation, and count us among those you have chosen.
Bless and approve our offering; make it acceptable to you, an offering in spirit and in truth. Let it become for us the body and blood of Jesus Christ, your only Son, our Lord.
When supper was ended, he took the cup. Again he gave you thanks and praise, gave the cup to his disciples, and said:
Father, we celebrate the memory of Christ, your Son. We, your people and your ministers, recall his passion, his resurrection from the dead, and his ascension into glory; and from the many gifts you have given us we offer to you, God of glory and majesty, this holy and perfect sacrifice: the bread of life and the cup of eternal salvation.
Look with favor on these offerings and accept them as once you accepted the gifts of your servant Abel, the sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith, and the bread and wine offered by your priest Melchisedech.
Almighty God, we pray that your angel may take this sacrifice to your altar in heaven. Then, as we receive from this altar the sacred body and blood of your Son, let us be filled with every grace and blessing.
For ourselves, too, we ask some share in the fellowship of your apostles and martyrs, with . . . Though we are sinners, we trust in your mercy and love. Do not consider what we truly deserve, but grant us your forgiveness. Through Christ our Lord.
Through him you give us all these gifts. You fill them with life and goodness, you bless them and make them holy.
Eucharistic Prayer I
To you, therefore, most merciful Father, we make humble prayer and petition through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord: that you accept and bless + these gifts, these offerings, these holy and unblemished sacrifices.
Therefore, Lord, we pray: graciously accept this oblation of our service, that of your whole family;order our days in your peace, and command that we be delivered from eternal damnation and counted among the flock of those you have chosen.
Be pleased, O God, we pray, to bless, acknowledge, and approve this offering in every respect; make it spiritual and acceptable, so that it may become for us the Body and Blood of your most beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
In a similar way, when supper was ended, he took this precious chalice in his holy and venerable hands, and once more giving you thanks, he said the blessing and gave the chalice to his disciples, saying:
Therefore, O Lord, as we celebrate the memorial of the blessed Passion, the Resurrection from the dead, and the glorious Ascension into heaven of Christ, your Son, our Lord, we, your servants and your holy people, offer to your glorious majesty from the gifts that you have given us, this pure victim, this holy victim, this spotless victim, the holy Bread of eternal life and the Chalice of everlasting salvation.
Be pleased to look upon them with serene and kindly countenance, and to accept them, as you were pleased to accept the gifts of your servant Abel the just, the sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith, and the offering of your high priest Melchizedek, a holy sacrifice, a spotless victim.
In humble prayer we ask you, almighty God: command that these gifts be borne by the hands of your holy Angel to your altar on high in the sight of your divine majesty, so that all of us who through this participation at the altar receive the most holy Body and Blood of your Son may be filled with every grace and heavenly blessing.
To us, also, your sinful servants, who hope in your abundant mercies, graciously grant some share and fellowship with your holy Apostles and Martyrs: . . . and all your Saints: admit us, we beg you,into their company, not weighing our merits, but granting us your pardon, through Christ our Lord.
Through whom you continue to create all these good things, O Lord; you make them holy, fill them with life, bless them, and bestow them upon us.
Eucharistic Prayer II
Lord you are holy indead, the fountain of all holiness.
Eucharistic Prayer II
You are indeed Holy, O Lord, the fount of all holiness.
Eucharistic Prayer III
Father, you are holy indeed, and all creation rightly gives you praise. All life, all holiness comes from you through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, by the working of the Holy Spirit. From age to age you gather a people to yourself, so that from east to west a perfect offering may be made to the glory of your name.
Look with favor on your Church's offering, and see the Victim whose death has reconciled us to yourself. . . .
. . . and the entire people your Son has gained for you.
Eucharistic Prayer III
You are indeed Holy, O Lord, and all you have created rightly gives you praise, for through your Son our Lord Jesus Christ, by the power and working of the Holy Spirit, you give life to all things and make them holy, and you never cease to gather a people to yourself, so that from the rising of the sun to its setting a pure sacrifice may be offered to your name.
Look, we pray, upon the oblation of your Church and, recognizing the sacrificial Victim by whose death you willed to reconcile us to yourself, . . .
. . . and the entire people you have gained for your own.
Eucharistic Prayer IV
He always loved those who were his own in the world. When the time came for him to be glorified by you, his heavenly Father, he showed the depth of his love. While they were at supper,
Lord, look upon this sacrifice which you have given to your Church; and by your Holy Spirit, gather all who share this bread and wine into the one body of Christ, a living sacrifice of praise.
Eucharistic Prayer IV
For when the hour had come for him to be glorified by you, Father most holy, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end: and while they were at supper,
Look, O Lord, upon the Sacrifice which you yourself have provided for your Church, and grant in your loving kindness to all who partake of this one Bread and one Chalice that, gathered into one body by the Holy Spirit, they may truly become a living sacrifice in Christ to the praise of your glory.
Words of Institution
TAKE THIS ALL OF YOU AND EAT IT: THIS IS MY BODY WHICH WILL BE GIVEN UP FOR YOU.
Words of Institution
TAKE THIS, ALL OF YOU, AND EAT OF IT, FOR THIS IS MY BODY, WHICH WILL BE GIVEN UP FOR YOU.
Let us proclaim the Mystery of Faith.
The mystery of faith.
Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your apostles: I leave you peace, my peace I give you. Look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church, and grant us the peace and unity of your kingdom, where you live for ever and ever.
Lord Jesus Christ, who said to your Apostles, Peace I leave you, my peace I give you, look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church, and graciously grant her peace and unity in accordance with your will. Who live and reign for ever and ever.
This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Happy are those who are called to his supper.
Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.
Private Prayer during Purification
Lord, may I receive these gifts in purity of heart. May they bring me healing and strength, now and for ever.
Private Prayer during Purification
What has passed our lips as food, O Lord, may we possess in purity of heart, that what has been given to us in time may be our healing for eternity.
The Mass is ended, go in peace.
Go forth, the Mass is ended.
8/12/2008 08:04:00 PM
We carry on with our series within a series on the construction of the pillar that will hold the outdoor statue of Saint Paul that will sit in the southwest corner of our courtyard facing east - toward both the entrance of the seminary and the rising sun.
The bricks that will cover the outside of the pillar (pictured at right) have arrived; they are the same as the gray bricks that line the pillar for the Metropolitan Cross in front of the seminary.
The crews have begun pouring concrete and the pillar is taking shape. We're on the edge of our seats waiting to see just how the final and finished project will appear. I have been told that a picture is worth a thousand words, so for this post I will let the pictures speak for themselves.
And then FINALLY the crews added the inner part of the pillar!
Ben will be taking over to show you the next stages of the construction. I am away from the Saint Paul Seminary so Ben will be showing you his pictures of the ongoing development of the installation of the statue of Saint Paul.
Take care, -Jeremy
8/12/2008 07:00:00 AM