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!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Vigil in Duluth

This past weekend was the seminary's monthly free weekend for September. A lot of the guys drove home to visit their families. Some stayed behind and did homework. I ended up among those recruited to help out with various events at the home diocese. After driving up to Duluth on Friday, I took a four hour shift from 2am to 6am outside the Building for Women as part of the massive pro-life campaign 40 Days for Life.

From now through November 2, people in 179 cities in 47 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa and two Canadian provinces are taking part in 40 days of prayer and fasting, constant vigil and community outreach!

This is the first time Christians in Duluth have participated in the campaign. About 600 abortions are performed in the Building for Women in downtown Duluth each year. In the wake of past campaigns, clinics around the country have seen dramatic declines in business. A couple have even closed.

The man I shared those four hours with is on his way to discern with the Franciscan Brothers of Peace here in the Cities. Until November 2nd, this vigil will be his full time job with 50-70 hours a week of the night shift. Those are the hours the drunkards are finding their way home. Things were pretty quiet. The only notable incident of the night came with a couple of young military guys heckling us over the references to fasting on our signs. They asked us whether we knew why had we had the right to be standing there. I gave them the stock response. Flattered or humbled, they turned back and apologized. One of them told us that his girlfriend had gotten two abortions without telling him in that very clinic. The other was pro-choice. We talked with them a bit, but they mostly argued with each other. They were vulgar, dismissive, and drunk, yet the only thing that shocked me was their apparent lack of hope. The memories of Iraq they related were full of hatred and the relationships with women they described were void of love. These men were twenty something years old and already broken by life. As they left, my partner said, "God Bless." The weary reply came back, "I wish He would."

Some people don't know what it is to be loved. Being reminded of that ought to be a source of fierce determination. Let's realize the gravity of our mission.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Feast of the Archangels

Hail thee, Festival Day!

Today we celebrate the Feast of Gabriel, Michael, and Raphael - the Archangels.

Where did the Church get the idea that these three angels exist? I am not sure if it will surprise you to read that all three of them are found in (that's right) the Bible.

Saint Gabriel, of course, is found in the first chapter of the Gospel according to Saint Luke. He announced to the Blessed Virgin Mary that she would be the Mother of God. This, the first mystery of the Rosary, heralds the incarnation of Jesus.

Saint Michael is written of in the Book of Revelation. In Chapter 12 of the Book of Revelation, we read the story of Saint Michael expelling the Evil One and the demons out of Heaven. We also read of the impending doom and defeat of the Enemy. As far as this author is aware, Saint Michael is the only one of the three archangels to whom the Bible specifically gives the title of "archangel."

Saint Raphael comes to us from a lesser known reference. In Chapter Three of the Book of Tobit we read of Sarah and her maid praying to God. The book tells us that "the prayer of these two suppliants was heard in the glorious presence of Almighty God." As such, God sent His angel Raphael; his mission was both to heal Tobit's eyes and to drive out a demon.

Saint Gabriel, pray for us.
Saint Michael, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, pray for us.

Take care, -Jeremy

Sunday, September 28, 2008

St. Therese of Lisieux part 3

This is the third installment of a three part series. You can find part one here and part two here. I decided to post this paper because St. Therese's feast day is coming in less than a week and secondly, one of our readers mentioned in a comment that St. Therese's parents will be beatified on October 19. From my reading of her autobiography Story of A Soul I came to deeply admire her father because of how he took care of Therese and her sisters after his wife died.

Many authors have written on different topics within Story of a Soul, a large number of authors have focused entire books on St. Therese’s little way. Fr. Francois Jamart O.C.D. wrote a book of commentary on different themes that St. Therese wrote about in her autobiography. He writes specifically on the section of Story of a Soul, which deals with St. Therese’s discovery of the vocation of love within the Mystical Body of the Church. Jamart references the passage from St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians that St. Therese was meditating upon and states: “She learned that all gifts, even the most perfect, that are distributed to the various members, are valueless unless they are animated by love and that charity is the great way that leads securely to God.” It is true that each member of the Church has a general and specific vocation and many tools are needed, but one is the most requisite and that is love. “So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” Since love is the most important of the theological virtues it ought to be sought after and practiced in order to discern a vocation because love is the root of the actions of the Church’s members. Jamart states, “She had even offered herself as a victim to merciful Love so that she might love God with His own Love.” It is St. Therese’s victim hood to the love of God that fills her with the love that only God can give. It is this same love that allowed the apostle to preach and the martyrs to die. This love is not be possessed but it is meant to possess those discerning their vocation. It is also in this that one realizes that this love desires to give itself away. She offered herself to this extravagant love and this is what allows her to “Render to God love for love and fulfill all vocations.”

Jerry Kemper’s section in St. Therese; Doctor of the Little Way writes on the fraternal charity that St. Therese exhibited in her life. He describes her love as the root of all that she did. In all of her struggles with her fellow Carmelites, she would “Look for a sister’s virtues and good motives.” Even in her dying days, St. Therese never forgot the fact that her vocation was rooted in love. As she laid in the courtyard of the convent her fellow sisters would come to cheer her up and her sisters were worried that they were disturbing her. She replied: “How can I write about charity if I do not show charity to my well intentioned fellow sisters.” Even in her illness she does not allow herself to compromise her strong commitment to love. How easy it would have been to be short-tempered with one of the sisters that annoyed her. It was not until after her death that some of the sisters realize how much love she gave to each one of them. This love was freely given and she was never reluctant to give her love to her family or to her fellow sisters. When one is able to love the way that St. Therese loved, they are able to catch sight of what God is calling them to.

Fr. Bernard Bro OP wrote four statements that summarize St. Therese’s teaching. One of them relates to vocational discernment in that we receive our calling and the ability to do so from God. Our calling and ability find their source in love. He writes: “Love lives by reciprocity; to love is to accept that the One who loves me gives me whatever is necessary to respond to him.” It is in this statement that one can realize that as one discerns a vocation they ought to concentrate on the love that they have received from God and how they respond to that love. The response to the love given from God is where a person’s calling lies. For St. Therese, her response to God’s love is her charity and her prayers for the salvation of souls and praying for priests. Each vocation has a response to love and it appears in the imitation of God and Jesus. Parents imitate God the Father when they shower down love upon their spouse and their children. Priests imitate Christ in giving their life as a ransom and by providing the sacraments for the lay faithful. Those who are consecrated to the religious life imitate Christ because they too, give their life over to their religious order and to their apostolate. Love desires to give itself away and it is in this self-gift that the married person, the priest, and the consecrated respond to this love.

As one looks back at St. Therese’s life, they realize that her love was extravagant because she gave herself so freely to God’s love. St. Therese desired to be an apostle, a prophet, and a teacher. She became these things by giving herself over to the same love that allowed the apostles to preach and the martyrs to die for their faith. Her self-sacrifice allows those who have followed her to rediscover the fact that each Christian’s vocation is rooted in the love that God showers down upon us and our own vocation is our response to that love.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

More Deacons!

Yesterday's First Reading at Mass was from the Book of Ecclesiastes:

There is an appointed time for everything,
and a time for every thing under the heavens.
A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant.
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to tear down, and a time to build.
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them;
a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces.
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away.
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to be silent, and a time to speak.
A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time of war, and a time of peace.

Evoking laughter, excitement and anticipation, Msgr. Callaghan began his homily, "There is a time for a free weekend." Indeed, there is; and thanks be to God for that.

Yes, this is our first free weekend of the year. What that means is that we seminarians are free to spend the days and nights where we desire, since we have no curfew nor any required seminary functions over the weekend (until Sunday Night Prayer, that is). These offer a little more respite and relaxation than is usual on the weekend. As well, these offer a great opportunity for men to go home and see family, especially men like me who live further away but not so far that it's inconvenient to drive home for two days.

Actually, I'm not really leaving. I might go visit my family tomorrow who are going out for a picnic at a beautiful park near my hometown, but we shall see.

In the meantime, while we are all traipsing around, the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis is ordaining the (Permanent) Deacon Class of 2008. Seven men are being ordained as I write this post. The Catholic Spirit lists them and has pictures of them, I believe. These men have been in our prayers here at the seminary. If you would, dear reader, say a prayer for them that, as they are configured to Christ the servant, they may always act with a humble servant's mind and will.

To my new brothers in the diaconate, to those men and their families, congratulations and Godspeed.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Sts. Cosmas and Damian

Today the Church honors two martyrs of the early Church: Sts. Cosmas and Damian. What we do know is that they were twins and also physicians who worked at no cost and were called the silverless. They were persecuted under Diocletian and eventually gave their lives for the faith in the year 287 AD. Their three brothers were also martyred along with them. Pope Felix IV (reigned from 526-530) erected a church in Rome in their memory and it still stands today.

A few years ago I had the opportunity to go to Rome for two weeks. Each day I would go walking in the city and would more or less wander around. One day while I was wandering through the Roman forum, I came across a few things I did not expect to find. One was the prison where Sts. Peter and Paul were imprisoned at. The other was the church dedicated to Sts. Cosmas and Damian. I went in and I prayed for a little bit, took a few pictures, and was one my merry way. That day was probably one of my favorite days spent in Rome because there were not a whole lot of people around because it was off the beaten path and I had time to pray for their intercession as I continued my journey in the eternal city.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Acquainted with Sorrow

Wednesdays at the seminary, we break with the typical daily schedule to spend time doing more specifically formative activities. These range from brief talks delivered by the rector or director of spiritual formation to classroom style lectures on various aspects of priesthood. Last Wednesday, Fr. Jeff Huard spoke to the deacon class about the public nature of living as a cleric. Among other things, he recommended that the priest needs to be a man "acquainted with sorrow."

As I understand Fr. Huard, he was suggesting that the priest needs to be a man who can enter into the sorrow of others and help them carry that burden. In doing so, the priest lifts some of the weight of suffering and sorrow on himself. He in turn, carrying his part of the burden, must then offer them on the cross. This occurs in his offering of the Mass and in his daily prayers.

This idea was not altogether new to me, but its reality was struck me afresh yesterday as I visited a woman in my teaching parish. She is a recent widow. He husband died of cancer about a month ago. During his illness, she was also diagnosed with cancer, and for a period of time, the two of them shared the beautifully intimate moments of caring for one another. Now, though, he is gone and she remains, still sick, more worried than ever, and terribly lonely in her house. She told me that she wants to get out and try to distract herself from her sorrows, but she cannot because of her own illness. Ths she is left to sit around at home. She constantly plays music just to create some noise. The house is too quiet now that she is alone.
I stayed with her for about forty minutes until her son arrived to help her with some household chores.

Her sorrow has been very close to me today. I think that is a good thing.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

New Guy on the Blog

Hey FP3M readers,

I'm Don, first year pre-theologate for the Diocese of Duluth(22R). Having assented to the administrators' syllabus of errors, I'm also officially the newest contributor to the site. The Catholic blogosphere has been huge in the development of my faith, so I'm excited to be here. Thanks, Jeremy, for inviting me on. You're a gentleman and a scholar.

Serran Steak Fry

Fostering vocations, of course, is an essential element in Church life at every level. Every baptized person has both the general vocation to holiness as well as a particular vocation to married life, consecrated life or priesthood - the question of the single life (lived differently than the single life of a consecrated virgin) is a question which I will not deal with here and now. Promoting this end of fostering vocations is the principle aim of a great organization of the faithful: the Serra International club.

Last week, we had our annual Serra Steak Fry here at the seminary. The evening began with Evening Prayer (Vespers) at 5:00pm, and was followed by a grand dinner out in our courtyard. As you can see from the collage below, highlighted and visible for all of our guest-hosts was our new Saint Paul Statue.

In the end, there were about 115 Serrans and their guests, as well as the 80 seminarians, faculty and staff. There were 11 different Serra Clubs from the Midway area were represented:

  • St. Croix Valley
  • Northwest Hennepin
  • Airport
  • North Minneapolis
  • Midway
  • South Suburban
  • St. Cloud
  • Downtown
  • North Hennepin
  • Wright County
  • Minneapolis

As is usual, this event provides an opportunity for us seminarians to tangibly and directly experience the support that we know we are always receiving from all of you out there, especially all you Serra Club members. As well, those who came have the opportunity to see that God does answer prayers and that their efforts are rewarded, even if in minor ways.

For me, there was the usual chit-chat of who it is I was meeting, where they're from, what it is they do, how God has blessed them with family, work, etc... As well, I get to tell a bit about myself and God's working in my life. One topic which came up at my section of the table (which we also received a question about in one of the comment boxes recently) was the subject of Latin. Do we seminarians have to study Latin? How much?, etc...

As I had the opportunity to explain the other night, the requisite courses in Latin (usually a full year) should be covered by college seminaries. I know both IHM in Winona and SJV here in Saint Paul require it. As well, SPS offers basic and advanced courses in Latin throughout the cycle of elective courses. Is this one year sufficient? Well, if a man keeps at it, yes. Personally, I pray the Liturgy of the Hours in Latin every day, and by doing that I am able to keep it in use and at the fore of my mind. I know of another seminarian who prays from a Latin breviary, and if my perception was correct, in the distance I've seen another Latin breviary being regularly used by yet another seminarian in the chapel.

In retrospect, the evening was a great blessing. Good times, good chat and good food were had by all. To any of our readers who are members of Serra International: many thanks to you. God bless you, and keep the prayers coming! Know of ours for you.

Diocese of Rockford: 100 Years Young

Yesterday the Diocese of Rockford celebrated 100 years of being a group of the People of God in Illinois.

The Rockford Diocese is led by the Most Reverend Thomas Doran. Bishop Doran was named by His Holiness Pope John Paul II in 1994. Congratulations to the People of God in the Rockford Diocese for building their diocese over the past 100 years and thanks to Bishop Doran for leading them into the dawn of their second 100 years as a diocese.

The Rockford Diocese currently has four seminarians assinged to study at the Saint Paul Seminary.

In light of this anniversary, let us renew our prayers with Pope John Paul the Great that the third millenium be a "Springtime for Christianity."

Take care, -Jeremy

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

500 Days and Many More to Come

Here's a cool milestone: 500 days ago, the Most Reverend John F. Kinney, Bishop of the Diocese of Saint Cloud, accepted me as a seminarian for his diocese.

Now, one academic year and two summers later, I took some time to look back at what I have accomplished - and that which I have yet to accomplish - for the Church, my bishop, and the People of God in the Diocese of Saint Cloud.

During this time, I have been able to meet a host of seminarians from across the country, been able to work with the People of God, and been humbled (multiple times) by learning that there is ever-so-much that I still need to learn.

In the Office of Readings for this past Saturday, we read an excerpt from Saint Augustine's sermon "On Pastors." In this, Saint Augustine wrote about temptation - in a way that applies to this topic as well. He writes that one must "prepare your soul for temptation." However, the consolation is that though "it is not that temptation will be lacking, but that God will not permit anyone to be tempted beyond what he can bear."

It would be comfortable to claim that since God will not allow one to be tested beyond what one can bear, that one may then relax. Quite the opposite. We must flex, stretch, and strengthen our spiritual muscles so that we are ready for the temptations and trials that will surely come.

So, for me here in the seminary, if I am truly called, God has given me the ability to make it through these years of trial and testing in the seminary-environment. My role is to give it my all so that I can be found (God-willing) worthy of ordination.

Ponder this in your own vocation, whatever it may be. You will not be tested beyond what you can bear, but neither must you "slack" in your preparation for the trial.

Take care, -Jeremy

Monday, September 22, 2008

Theology One Retreat

The Theology One group (Saint Paul Seminary Class of 2012) was on retreat from Friday (19 September) through Sunday (21 September). After being immersed as "major seminarians" for about a month, we were to take time to be on retreat and re-group ourselves following this new expereince.

Our retreat was simple: go to the wilderness and be silent. Our retreat center gave each of us a cabin. In the cabin were the following (and only the following): bread, fruit, bed, chair, bible, gas-light. It was very simple, basic, and free of the usual distractions (MP-3 player, computer, et cetera). We were not to speak to one-another; rather, we were to listen, and listen, and listen.

It was a rustic setting as you see. This is certainly very little like Saint Paul - our usual habitat. In addition to our own small cabins, there were trails and a larger center building that included a chapel. We had free range of these territories - so long as we kept our focus on prayer and that we kept grand silence - that we may listen: "Listen with the ear of your heart." -Saint Benedict

Each cabin was named for a saint. This author was assigned Saint John the Beloved:

Peter was assigned the Saint Peter cabin:

Joe - from the Diocese of Saint Cloud - was assigned the Saint Cloud cabin.

And, of course, there was a Saint Paul seminarian in the Saint Paul cabin.

The small chapel at this retreat centre also reminded us of the wilderness. The early feedback from the Class of Theology One was all good; this author can personally testify that it was exactly what he needed.

I was able to spend a great deal of time on an excerpt from the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel, a writing of Saint Augustine, and even a bit from The Imitiation of Christ. I feel so changed - and yes, for the better.

But why is that? Isn't being in seminary like a multi-year retreat both day-in and day-out? Well, yes and no. We are constantly "flexing our spiritual and Christian muscles" but we also have so many responsibilities that we may, at times, loose our balence. This notion of retreat - going to the desert, to the wilderness as did Saint John the Baptist - is partly an exercise to regain our balance and focus.

Now we're back in the saddle and ready to resume our normal, academic-year schedule. The retreat was great and already has borne fruit among our class. We need your prayers all the same - pray for your seminarians.

Take care, -Jeremy

Sunday, September 21, 2008

St. Thérèse of Lisieux part 2

This post is a continuation from my post last Sunday.

The second thing that leads her to the realization of her vocation was love itself. The role that charity takes in any vocation is very evident in St. Thérèse’s life because: “I understood that love comprised all vocations.” Since love comprises all vocations it seems that St. Thérèse desired to be transformed into love. This reality is vital to the discernment of one’s vocation because it shows that one’s vocation lies in how they respond to love from God and neighbor. St. Thérèse’s response to God’s love was shown through the way she related to the other nuns in the convent. As she came to the realization that her vocation is love, she recognized that the second of the greatest commandments given by Jesus in Matthew 22:39 is a source for her vocation. St. Thérèse wrote: “The more united I was to Him the more also did I love all my sisters. I desired to forget myself for them and to be as devoted to them as I could.” This quotation is very similar to her desire to “seek out always the most perfect thing to do, and forget self.” Her love caused her to forget her own desires, “And little Thérèse, on the very eve of her death, said to her sister Celine, 'I have said everything. Everything is accomplished. It is love alone that counts.'” For St. Thérèse it was love alone that mattered for her, her eternal rest would come the next day. d’Elbee states: “After her death, a deluge of miracles fell from Heaven to make us say, 'She was not wrong; it is love alone that counts.'”

Monsignor Vernon Johnson, a convert from Anglicanism, writes on the topic of love in the book focused on the spiritual life of St. Thérèse. He brings together many themes, which were vital to St Thérèse’s own realization of her vocation to love and his own conversion. There are many places in St. Thérèse’s autobiography in which she focuses on her relationship with God the Father and her own father, Louis Martin. Msgr. Johnson focuses primarily upon the love that a father has for his children. He writes: “Almighty God is her Father and she his little child, their relationship must be a relationship of love.” Johnson describes Fr. Bernard Bro’s OP thought that love is something that is reciprocal. This idea is fundamental to being able to understand how St. Thérèse defines love and how her definition was developed. The love that she received from both God and her father allow her to give the love that she gave back to each. Msgr. Johnson states: “God has placed St. Thérèse, to rescue us from all that is false in our concept of love and lead us back to that simple, direct, spontaneous love which, in the depths of our souls, we really long for.” Msgr. Johnson also notes that in the basilica dedicated to St. Thérèse in Lisieux, France, there are inscriptions in the arches. One of the inscriptions is the verses from Matthew 22:37-39 that contain the two greatest commandments. On another is found: “There is but one thing to be done here below: to love Jesus and to save souls for Him that He may be more loved.” These two quotations were so important to St. Thérèse that they are a permanent reminder of what St. Thérèse believed in.

St. Thérèse realizes that “The most necessary and the most noble [member] of all could not be lacking.” In each member of the Church, St. Thérèse sees something that is desirable and like the innocent child that she is she says: “I desired to see myself in them all.” This desire is not selfish because as a little girl, she was presented with a choice. A relative of hers had a basket of different dolls and trinkets and St. Thérèse’s sister Celine chose a ball of wool. Thérèse chose all of the things in the basket and even the basket itself. She reflected on this time in her life and she writes: “I understood that to become a saint one had to suffer much, seek out always the most perfect thing to do and forget self.” As she is going through the periods of restlessness, she is suffering greatly because she desires to be all things but she cannot because she has not been able to realize that her vocation is love. In vocational discernment there are difficult times because one has not been able to make sacrifices or there is an inordinate attachment to sin or something of this earth.

St. Thérèse acknowledges that her path to entering Carmel was plagued with many difficulties, but she is still able to realize that “the Church had a heart and that this heart was burning with love.” The rest that consoled her was sufficient enough for her to come to understand that “Love comprised all vocations.” Her desire to see herself in each vocation and role that St. Paul mentions in his Letter to the Corinthians is a witness to the love that she has for serving the Church. However, one cannot participate in each of the three vocations so there must be a sacrifice made in one way or another. The reality is that one can choose only one vocation. In choosing one vocation a person must sacrifice the joys of the other vocations. She emphasizes the fact that any human action has its roots in that same burning love, which inspired the apostles to preach and many martyrs to die. The apostles preach out of love for Christ and the martyrs died because their love for Christ surpassed their love for their own life. The apostles and the martyrs received their zeal from God, the same God who allows St. Thérèse to be transformed into love. She was not transformed in a physical sense but rather in the way that she was disposed to God and to her fellow nuns.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

People are funny critters

People from my neck of the woods may well recognize the title of this post as a blatant act of plagiarism, as it is also the title of an amusing poem by cowboy poet and veterinarian, Baxter Black. He proposes a whole list of these "funny critters," among whom are

Apple Pie Bakers,
And crooked book makers,
And Blonds and Brunetters,
And Birthday Forgetters,
And Chicken Fry lovers,
And Blue-Eyed Soul Brothers,
And Drinkers and Boozers,
And Winners and Losers,
And Elephant Trainers,
And Tireless Campaigners,
And Fixers and Menders,
And Paper Clip Benders,
And Goers and Stayers,
And Pinochle Players,
And Handkerchief Users,
And Tissue Abusers.

There are also apparently coffee-cup-nose-touchers.

It is our habit to enjoy a short social as a bit of an intermission between our Holy Hour and communal recitation of Night Prayer on Sundays. On a recent Sunday evening, the hosts of the social served hot cider, which was particularly good. They served the cider from real coffee mugs, and the night was cooler than those to which we had grown accustomed over the summer. For this reason, one of the men with whom I was speaking felt compelled to take his ceramic mug, warmed by the cider within, and repeatedly apply it to the tip of his nose.

People are funny critters . . .

Friday, September 19, 2008

Speaking of and in Latin

Out and about for the summer between my first and second years of theology, I have heard the idea kicked about that Catholic Seminarians don’t get Latin like they used to. When I hear older priests talk about having to converse at table entirely in Latin, I have to agree. Still, Latin is the language of the Church and a solid Catholic theological education, like the one available at St. Paul Seminary, has little Latin phrases woven throughout. Here’s a sampling from the first week or so of class:

Salus animarum suprema lex: “The salvation of souls is the supreme law [of the Church].” Though not an exact quote, this idea appears in the last canon of the Code of Canon Law, the law for the Catholic Church throughout the world. When it came up in Basic Ecclesiastical Law Class, and even today, the thought encourages me. All the rules and regulations, liturgies, prayers, chapels, merciful works, vestments, education, blogs, and (gahh) meetings aim at eventually getting me saved. As a scholar, I realize there’s some debate about the precise details of “salvation”, but I tend to fall back on what strikes me as the common (and common sense) definition: getting to heaven. I pray that I will see all the loyal blog readers there.

Mundus reconciliatus, ecclesia: “The world reconciled, that is the Church.” This comes from the works of St. Augustine and captures what my Ecclesiology (study of the Church herself) Class describes as a “great” definition of the Church. Like Christ, the Church has human and divine aspects. Though clearly of this world, she is also radically different from this world because she has been reconciled, reformed, and saved. Incidentally, I included the comma in the phrase because it was included in my notes. I’m not sure if that was in the original, but I highly doubt it. Punctuation, on the whole, seems to be a rather recent innovation. In any case, I will claim it as mine since I would never presume one of greatest early Christian writers utilized a comma splice.

Deus providebit: “God will provide.” This line is quoted by Cardinal Ratzinger in his work God is Near Us which I am reading for my Eucharist class. The man who has become the pope meditates for a few pages on the story of Abraham obeying God’s command to sacrifice Isaac. When Isaac asks, perhaps already a little uneasily, “Where is the lamb for the sacrifice?”, Abraham replies that “God will provide.” That, according to the Cardinal, is an example of the sort of trust Christians ought to live: following God even when we don’t understand.

Mysterium aquae et vini est: “It is the mystery of the water and the wine.” OR “The mystery is of the water and the wine.” OR “There is a mystery of water and wine.” This sentence comes from my Basic Ecclesiastical Latin course. I had to translate it as part of our drills for the last class. Because these practice sentences lack the context of a larger work, a precise translation is a bit difficult. Oh well. Deus providebit.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Justice from God's Point of View

This week Deacon Omar Guanchez has authored the reflection on the Sunday Scriptures for The Catholic Spirit. His reflection follows.


I studied four years at a seminary in my home country of Venezuela and will have completed four more years here at the St. Paul Seminary by the time I am ordained a priest.

The other day, a priest friend of mine told me that Roman seminarians do five years of seminary formation to be ordained. Only five years!

Do I find a problem when I compare my eight years of formation with their five years? Yes. Why do I have to do more years of seminary formation than others?

Wouldn’t it be nice if the same rule ap­plied to everyone?

I understand the uneasiness of the laborers in this Sunday’s Gospel. When the laborers who started work­ing in the morning saw that they received the same pay as those who started in the afternoon, they grumbled against the landowner. Wouldn’t you grumble if you found yourself in a situation like this?

Any rational human being would probably think this is not fair. But maybe this is because we link the concept of justice to proportionality rather than to generosity. More payment should go to those who work longer. More reward should be given to those who do more good, and more punishment should be given to those who do more evil.

Trust in God’s generosity

This Gospel reading presents an analogy of the kingdom of heaven that is hard for us to understand. Jesus’ comparison seems to demand too much generosity on our behalf, and the Lord’s concept of “what is just” differs from ours.

The question that the landowner asks says it all: “Are you envious because I am generous?” Yes, they were. Aren’t we as well?

The truth is that the kingdom of heaven is a free gift, not something that we can earn or deserve after so much work. Likewise, priesthood is something that I don’t earn after so many years of seminary; it is, rather, a calling, a gift that I should humbly accept and live. The length of formation, then, becomes a matter of solid preparation, not a matter of counting the years it takes to become ordained.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, this Gospel speaks of the generosity of God, generosity that goes beyond our understanding. However, we should not overlook that all of the laborers called to work in the vineyard did some work — some more than others, but they all worked. This must remind us that we, too, are called to work for the kingdom of heaven with the constant trust that God will give us more than we actually deserve.

Deacon Omar Guanchez is in formation for the priesthood at the Saint Paul Seminary. He is a seminarian of the Diocese of St. Cloud and his teaching parish is St. Joseph in Waite Park.


Zealous Catholics occasionally become convinced that they know precisely what should happen in the Church, including seminaries. Noting this fact, a peer of mine commented, "People should not obsess about seminarians, or seminaries, or dinosaurs, or cats . . ."

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What's a priest?

I expect that at least one mother had the job of explaining what a priest is last night.

Walking along the bike path with Deacon Gregory last evening, we encountered a girl, about nine years old, who was riding her bicycle. Her mother and some siblings were following behind at some distance, and so the girl had stopped at a bend in the path waiting for them to catch up. Dcn. Gregory and I were both dressed in our clerics, and as we approached the girl she observed, "I'll bet y'all work in a restaurant, huh?" I responded, "No, I don't think so," and Dcn. Gregory then attempted to explain that we were preparing to become priests. She didn't seem especially impressed.

While it may have gone right over the head of this little lady, our encounter with her did make an impression on me. It is important for us to dress according to our state in life. It says something. It serves as a witness. Married people should wear their wedding bands as a testimony to their love and fidelity to God and spouse. For the ordained, the collar serves a similar function. By wearing them, we point beyond ourselves to the reality of God's love for us. It is evangelism without words. In a world where what we, as Catholics believe, is so often derided by our culture, it is a great opportunity we have to witness to our faith simply by what we wear.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Lost in Translation II

Perhaps I shouldn't get onto this soapbox. This topic is, after all, well beyond beating a dead horse. Yet, since we have not begun to implement the changes, we will still have to revisit the issue in the future. So, I provide for you today's Opening Prayer from Mass in the Latin, ICEL 1970 (give or take a couple years) English and my own translation (definitely not perfect).

Who knows, maybe it's only so very beyond dead within seminary and theological circles, and not so much in the sphere of the laity.


qui populo tuo beatos Cornelium et Cyprianum
sedulos pastores et invictos martyres præstitisti,
concede, ut, eorum intercessione,
fide et constantia roboremur,
et pro Ecclesiæ unitate operam tribuamus impense.
Per Dominum.

ICEL 1970:

God our Father,
in Saints Cornelius and Cyprian
you have given your people an inspiring example
of dedication to the pastoral ministry
and constant witness to Christ in their suffering.
May their prayers and faith give us courage
to work for the unity of your Church.
Grant this through our Lord...

My translation:

who for your people you set forth
Blesseds Cornelius and Cyprian,
painstaking pastors and unconquered martyrs,
grant that, through their intercession,
we might be strengthened with faith and steadfastness,
and zealously work for the unity of the Church.
Through our Lord...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Maybe you can figure out why I posted this

There are a couple of reasons for my posting this, but perhaps you can figure out the primary reason for having done so. SPS sems and alums, chime in!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

St. Therese of Lisieux

This post is the beginning of a three post series of a paper I wrote during my college days entitled: "Vocational discernment within the Little Way". I focused on one passage in particular and is well-known to many. It is the passage in which St. Therese discovers that her vocation is to love. Before she can come to realize that her vocation is to love, she says that she first needed peace in order for this discovery to be made.

In Saint Therese of Lisieux’s autobiography: Story of a Soul, she describes her ‘little way’ to Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart. Her ‘little way’ is the summary of Saint Therese’s spiritual life and the source of her holiness. Her little way has been an inspiration for many people to grow closer in their relationship with Jesus Christ. One of the aspects of her little way is the discovery of her vocation to love. St. Therese had to take many steps to enter the Carmelite convent of Lisieux and it is near the end of her life that she wrote about her vocation to love. This essay will concentrate on the roles of rest and the theological virtue of charity in vocational discernment according to St. Therese’s ‘little way’.

In her life at Carmel, St. Therese lived an austere life of prayer and work. Her prayer was dedicated to the salvation of sinners and for Catholic priests. The Catholic Church acknowledges that there are two vocations for each baptized person: a general and a specific. The general vocation of every Christian is to strive for holiness and to merit eternal life with God. Each member of the Church contributes something to the life of the Church through different specific vocations. A specific vocation is the calling that God has for each individual person. There are three specific vocations: priesthood, religious life, and marriage. The word discernment comes from the Latin verb cernere, which means to separate or distinguish. For those who take their calling in life seriously, discernment is one of the most important things. Her own discernment led her to enter the Carmel at Lisieux at the age of 15. Her discernment did not end with her entrance into Carmel but it led her to discern her purpose in the Carmel that she lived.

St. Therese’s little way is contained within the second manuscript of her autobiography: Story of a Soul that she as a letter to her blood sister Marie who is also one of the nuns in the Carmel at Lisieux. During St. Therese’s time at Carmel, she endured many physical and spiritual trials and was able to find joy in the most tumultuous moments. She admits that it was difficult for her to love her fellow sisters because of things that she found annoying but she loved her sisters even to the day before her death. Some of the sisters were afraid that they were disturbing her as she tried to write but that was not the case. It was not until after her death they realized this though. She had been plagued by days, possibly weeks of restlessness. This troubled her because when one is restless they are unable to perform their duties the way that they could if they were rested. She was troubled because she was not able to pray and work as she had when she was in good health. St. Therese comes to the realization that two things lead her to the knowledge that her vocation is love: rest and charity.

“I finally had rest.” This simple statement is so important because if the mind and body are deprived of a thing such as rest, the soul is unsettled and cannot be aware of the different movements of the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). In day-to-day living, rest is such a necessary thing and if one is deprived of not only sleep but also rest in body, mind, and soul, they are not able to be open to what God is calling them to. Her restlessness was a result of the desires she held within herself. In her meditations she realizes: “That all cannot be apostles, prophets, doctors, etc.” This causes her unrest because she desires to be all of these things. Rest allows her to think about different passages from the Bible. One in particular was a passage from St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. The passage speaks of the members of the Church and how each member is important to the life of the Church. St. Paul is pointing to the reality that the desire to become an apostle, a prophet, a teacher, or a miracle worker is not wrong, “But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.” Therese writes: “I had not recognized myself in any of the members described by St. Paul, or rather I desired to see myself in them all.” Her desire to see herself in the place of the various members of the Church is a sign of charity that comes from the Church and goes back to the Church in the form of service.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


Congratulations to Jim who contributed post number 550 today.

Prayer to Christ through Mary reveals her to be a Divine Teacher

This is Part 3 of a multi-part series on the Alliance of the Sacred Heart of Jesus & the Immaculate Heart of Mary as a Spiritual Devotion. Part 4 will post soon.

by James Lannan, Theology II - Saint Paul Seminary


Mary - Our Mother & Teacher:

One of the things I am learning more and more is that looking to Mary can help guide a person to following Jesus' call. This is particularly true in moments of tension and confusion.

1. Primarily, Mary stored up all her contemplations about responding to God's call in her most Sacred & Immaculate Heart. This life of spiritual devotion, contemplation and prayer is an example for us to follow. The key is to lean into her, as our Mother in Christ, as this can help build assurance and courage in times of confusion and doubt about following God's call.

2. Stemming from prayer, follow-through on resolutions made in prayer are important. We can see how Mary's life of holiness, filled with virtue and purity serves as the greatest example of Christian discipleship for us all. This is what God expects from us. Yet, it is very difficult and we will stumble repeatedly on the journey.

By starting to do these two things and sticking to them, we can only begin to see how Mary, Mother of the Church, our Mother, and Mother of Christ can "teach" us how to hear her Son's callings. This is a key notion - Mary is a teacher inasmuch she is our Mother. Where does Mary first teach us in the Gospels?

Take a look at the Gospel of John:

On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; Jesus also was invited to the marriage, with his disciples. When the wine failed, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." And Jesus said to her, "O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come." His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." Now six stone jars were standing there, for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, "Fill the jars with water." And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, "Now draw some out, and take it to the steward of the feast." So they took it. When the steward of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, "Every man serves the good wine first; and when men have drunk freely, then the poor wine; but you have kept the good wine until now." This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory; and his disciples believed in him. (John 2:1-11)

"Do whatever he tells you." - It is here that Mary lets the world get a picture of the deepest tunnels and channels and chasms and cliffs of her Immaculate Heart. The shiny smooth streams of love that pours out of that Immaculate Heart are most colored by one amazing truth - her life is a giant "YES" to God and his calling. Trying to live this life of saying "yes" can help bring about profound joy, and at last, a deep and content inner peace a person has been longing for.

She is basically saying, "do what Christ say, listen to him, pray and reflect on his Word, and follow-through on it.

On Friday September 12, 2008 our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI's homily at the celebration of Vespers with priests, religious, seminarians and deacons ends with a nice summary of Mary's example of fidelity.

During his Apostolic Journey to France on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Lourdes, the Holy Father said,

Dear brothers and sisters, in Our Lady we have the finest example of fidelity to God’s word. Her great fidelity found fulfilment in the Incarnation; with absolute confidence, Mary can say: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word!” (Lk 1:38). Our evening prayer is about to take up the Magnificat, the song of her whom all generations will call blessed. Mary believed in the fulfilment of the words the Lord had spoken to her (cf. Lk 1:45); she hoped against all hope in the resurrection of her Son; and so great was her love for humanity that she was given to us as our Mother (cf. Jn 19:27). Thus we see that “Mary is completely at home with the word of God; with ease she moves in and out of it. She speaks and thinks with the word of God; the word of God becomes her word, and her word issues from the word of God” (Deus Caritas Est, 41). To her, then, we can say with confidence: “Holy Mary, Mother of God, our Mother, teach us to believe, to hope, to love with you. Show us the way to his Kingdom!” (Spe Salvi, 50). Amen.

Friday, September 12, 2008

First House Party

Tonight, the third floor hosted the first house party of the year. Throughout the year, there are (I think) three house parties per semester - one hosted by each floor. Perhaps it's only three per year. Anyhow, it fell to the third floor men this time.

It was a very simple event, replete with comraderie, burgers, beer, chicken legs, guacamole, pop (or "soda" for you non-midwesterners). Early in the evening, there was bocce ball, as well as two games of bean-bag toss. We had music playing on a stereo which accompanied the varied conversations which were carried on at the tables.

As the evening drew on, and as the daylight faded, there was a fire that was started in our firepit. The picture here is not of our own firepit. I don't know that we would really be able to build a fire this large in our own pit. It really is rather nice.

As has become the custom around these parts, there was even a portion of the evening devoted to singing some favorite tunes. A number of the hispanics of our community gathered to sing La Bamba, among others, while one of the fourth year deacons and one of the priest faculty played on their bass and guitar - a rather talented community we have! An event like this provides a great way for the returning men and the new men to continue to get to know one another better. All in all, a great night. A great way to help the year get off to a good start.

Men of the third floor: thank you for a great night.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Christian Symbolism?

I'm only asking the question: does the most recent Batman movie ("The Dark Knight") hold Christian symbolism or is it merely playing at Christian themes to build an entertaining story? I will make sure that I do not give-away any plot for those of our readership that have not yet seen the movie.

The opening synopsis for the story is that the city of Gotham has a serious crime and mafia problems; the criminals fear Batman, yes, but the people are not certain if Batman is a person of fortitude and principle or an out-of-control "citizen-cop."

There are many scenes and lines in the movie that this author identified as potentials for direct Christian symbolism. One that comes most readily to mind is as follows:

Much of the idea behind the Batman comics and movies is that Batman is trying to save the city of Gotham from being overrun by criminals, evil doers, and despair. At one point, two characters decide that Batman (though he was not guilty) must be wrongly blamed for a set of crimes so that another character (the guilty one) could regain a noble reputation; this was decided because it was thought that this would give the people of the city hope that a brighter, better day was coming. One of the characters speaks about this, saying about Batman: "we must pursue him - he who had done no wrong." Upon the conclusion of this line, the Gotham police began to attempt to arrrest Batman.

When I heard that line (pursue he who had done no wrong), the first thing that came to my mind was the suffering servant in the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. Batman is certainly not anything like Jesus but I could not help but consider this comparison.

Consider these two passages from Isaiah that predict Christ as the suffering servant.

Isaiah 53:3-5: He was spurned and avoided by men, a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity, one of those from whom men hide their faces, spurned, and we held him in no esteem. Yet it was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured, while we thought of him as stricken, as one smitten by God and afflicted. But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins. Upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole; by his wounds we were healed.

Isaiah 50:6-7: I gave my back to those who beat me, my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting. The Lord GOD is my help, therefore I am not disgraced.

Praised be Jesus Christ - he who had done no wrong.

Take care, -Jeremy

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Saint Paul, the city

I don't know if it's ever really been said on here, but Saint Paul is really a beautiful city. Two nights ago, a few of us (yes, the same group Dcn. Tyler mentioned in his post yesterday) went out for a stroll through the city streets of Saint Paul for relaxation, a little exercise, chatting, clearing the mind, etc... (though one of us wanted to go for a speed-walk, or so it would have seemed). As we walked around, we entered upon a neighborhood where the lawns were all filled with tricycles, wagons, and other yard toys for children.

One of my companions commented, "Must be families that live around here." I tried to joke and say, "No, just freshmen in college," but it didn't garner the laugh I had hoped for. But, there's something more to this lawn ornamentation which has its own sort of beauty.

You see, in Saint Paul, there is such security and neighborliness (so I am learning) that one need not erect a whole fence around one's property to keep his kids safe. Nor, must they always play in the backyard or anything of that sort. When I first arrived three years ago, I was surprised when I would be out walking or driving to the grocery store and see lots of dads and moms out with their kids for an evening stroll. It was great to see!

I have fond memories of my own neighborhood growing up. One of the great traditions was that a couple of times a year, during the summer, the husband and wife who lived next-door to my family would host a bonfire and "weiner-roast" for the whole neighborhood. Many would show up, gathering around the fire, roasting hot-dogs and eating burnt marshmallows. All would be laughing and having a good time. Assuredly, the men would be re-telling hunting stories (only a little exaggerated from the last time).

I have, for the most part, only a vague memory of these times. One memory that I do keep with particular fondness took place when I was probably only three or so. At that point, I still sucked my thumb, which is the detail from this story that Dick - the next-door neighbor - will never let me forget. So, it was one of these evenings that we were all out for a bonfire, and apparently it was getting late. Well, it was late for a three year-old. So, one of my folks brought me into the house, put me in the crib and set me down to sleep. The only problem was that I was not ready for sleep, and there was no way I was going to let all the grown-ups have all the fun without me. So, after about 15 minutes, I crawled my way up and out of my crib for the first time, worked my way out of the house in the dark and sauntered back over to the bonfire, thumb in mouth. This last detail provided great entertainment for most of the neighbors.

Dick will never let me forget the night when he saw me walking over to the bonfire after having crawled out of bed, characteristically sucking my thumb. He even was sure to make mention of it in the card that they sent me for my ordination to the diaconate. Thankfully, there was no real reason to be concerned for my security. Our neighborhood was a safe one, with concern for one another and the well-being of the community.

Perhaps this is a bit lacking in many places today - as it may have been 22 years ago, just not in Gaylord. It seems, though, that Saint Paul is a unique place in that there is a significant amount of this sense of community, security and neighborly charity yet existent. I am thankful for such a great area to live in during the school year. I hope that the kids growing up here and now may one day also have fond memories of growing up in this great location, Saint Paul.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

In which I Consider the Nature of Stones Thrown in Glass Houses

It is the habit of the seminary to assign a single deacon to assist with all of the liturgical functions for a single day. For instance, a person assigned to a Wednesday would typically expose the Blessed Sacrament for adoration at 6:00 AM, repose the Blessed Sacrament at 8:00 AM, lead Lauds at 8:15 AM, assist at the altar for 11:35 Mass, and then lead Vespers at 5:00 PM. For the majority of my classmates, this week and next will afford us our first opportunities to serve here at the seminary. Because we are nervous, these days can be exhausting. And there is plenty to be nervous about.

The uninformed person might believe seminarians to be the sort of people who look past the liturgical mistakes of their peers, especially since this is a learning institution. Hardly! Rather, they are like circling wolves, looking for the first sign of weakness. A forgotten word here, a misplaced genuflection there, and they pounce. They take delight in ribbing their comrades for the rest of the day (sometimes for the rest of the year). Thus, it takes nerves of steel to enter the sanctuary for the first time.

In reality, it is all just joking in good fun, and it helps us to learn and to improve. What is more, I tend to think that a joke is easier to swallow than plain old-fashioned criticism. This fact does nothing to alleviate one's anxiety, though.

As yet, none of us has finished our day unscathed. One of us failed to begin the prayers of the faithful at the proper time. Another of us invited the assembly to share the sign of peace in an unconventional way. Yesterday, at Lauds, for my part, I sang the wrong melody for the opening song (there is no musical notation in the book). We were forced to stop half way through the first verse and start again according to a different melody. Such an interruption would have been necessary anyway. The melody I had begun was an octave to high for men to sing at 7:00 AM. I'm also told that I was too loud in my proclamation of the Gospel.

The teasing began at breakfast, and continued through lunch, and reached its climax as two of my classmates and I took a quiet walk after dinner where we revisited some amusing foibles from years gone by as well. I took it all in stride. There are several days before I am deacon du jour again, and I am watching for the tiniest mistake. People who live in glass houses should definitely not throw stones.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Tight Schedule, New Adventures

Today is the beginning of the first full week of the academic year at the Saint Paul Seminary.

For those of us in Theology I, Mondays are our "lighter" days in terms of classroom-time. As such, I was hopeful that I would be able to both catch-up and get-ahead in reading and other tasks for my courses.

However, anything that could be construed as "free time" quickly evaporates in the seminary. My house job for the year is to be the "worship-aid maker" - I build the liturgy guides. While I had planned to use the second half of this morning to read, a last-minute task was brought to my attention that took away nearly all of my planned reading time. On top of that, I was scheduled to be the cantor for Evening Prayer at 5pm today - this means that even my transitions were filled (with practicing).

All the same, after my final class for today (3pm), I really needed some exercise. I managed to get another seminarian to come with me to play racketball for an hour. While some would call this a waste of precious study-time, I saw it as a much needed release.

MY LESSON: It is going to be a rough year. I need to really push forward in my studies and block-out the unnecessary tasks. Now it's off to bed (early), not because I am fully ready for the rest of the week but rather because I have four classes tomorrow - and I will need my strength.

Take care, -Jeremy

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Codex Iuris Canonici

The Code of Canon Law (Codex Iuris Canonici) contains the laws of the Church regarding the general norms, the people of God, the teachers of the faith, things related to the sanctification of the Church, temporal goods of the Church, sanctions that the Church can impose, and the process of carrying out a trial. As part of our assignment for our introduction to Canon Law we read the Apostolic Constitution: Sacra Disciplinae Leges which was written by Pope John Paul II. One quotation stood out to me: "This being so, it appears sufficiently clear that the Code is in no way intended as a substitute for faith, grace, charisms, and especially charity in the life of the Church and of the faithful. On the contrary, its purpose is rather to create such an order in the ecclesial society that, while assigning the primacy to love, grace, and charisms, it at the same time renders their organic development easier in the life of both the ecclesial society and the individual persons who belong to it." When some hear the words law or rule, they are put off because of the restrictions that come with laws and rules. The goal of the Code of Canon Law is to provide healthy and organic boundaries to help sanctify the people of God.

Unexpected Solemnity

Though we love the hospitality of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul, we (the seminarians of the Diocese of Saint Cloud) do miss our home-diocese.

Today, 07 September, is for most Christians the optional memorial of Saint Cloud, patron of the Diocese of Saint Cloud. I was sad to see that, this year, 07 September is a Sunday, which means the memorial is dropped.

However, within the Diocese of Saint Cloud to day is STILL a SOLEMNITY; today the people of the Diocese of Saint Cloud remember the patron of our diocese, a French priest. Pictured here is the Cathedral of the Diocese of Saint Cloud; though the Cathedral is named for Saint Mary, it houses the primary diocesean shrine to our patron, Saint Cloud.

What should you do if you want to celebrate with the people of the Diocese of Saint Cloud? Well, if you're not that far away, you can hurry and make it to a Mass in our diocese - believe me, it's worth the trip. Otherwise you could find a breviary and pray the "Common of Holy Men" in honor of Saint Cloud.

Most basically, you can join with me and all of the people of the Diocese of Saint Cloud as we say: "Saint Cloud, pray for us."

Take care, -Jeremy

Saturday, September 06, 2008


I do not know if I have mentioned it before or not, but I am currently pursuing two degrees simultaneously. The first is the Master of Divinity (M. Div.) degree. This is a pastoral degree which almost all priests receive during their theological studies. Its emphasis is most often the applicability of theology two the practice of ministry, and the assignment for courses for this degree are often geared toward the practical application of theology in the parish. The second degree that I hope to obtain before the year ends is the Master of Arts in Theology (MAT). This degree is the more typically academic degree with a focus on research, theory, and method. For this degree, one must prepare a thesis and complete comprehensive exams. The time to begin writing the thesis has arrived, so today, after writing this, I will write my thesis proposal with a basic outline of what i hope to accomplish. You, dear readers, get a sneak peek.

Posts from this summer have indicated the presence of Native American Indians in my diocese. While some are Catholic, many are not. Even among those who identify themselves as Catholic, their practice of their faith is negligible. Catholic missionaries have been present to the Lakota for well over a century. Why, then, do their efforts seem to have been mostly ineffective? This question is particularly pertinent to me when compared to the evangelization of Mexico. Mexico was populated by its own indigenous people, the majority of whom eventually were converted to Catholicism, to the point that Mexico is often (though perhaps inaccurately) called a Catholic Nation. In my thesis, I intend to investigate the means by which Mexico became a Catholic nation. Because of the scope of this topic, I will not have time to prepare a similar study of the Lakota. Nevertheless, it is my hope to one day complete this work so as to be able to then prepare a comparison of the evangelization of the two cultures. Stay tuned. I will provide updates about this investigation as my research progresses.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Blessing of the Saint Paul Statue

On Wednesday, Archbishop Nienstedt was at the Saint Paul Seminary to open the academic year, bless the statue of Saint Paul, and accept the Oath of Fidelity from the faculty of the Saint Paul Seminary.

On hand for the blessing were John and Kay - the principle benefactors behind the statue project. This author was able to speak with them.

They told me how happy they were to see the finished project and to have the Archbishop bless the statue. This author must report that, sadly, I was not able to have dinner that evening with John and Kay.

The Archbishop offered words of encouragement to the seminarians for the new year; he also offered wisdom from the life, teaching, and example of Saint Gregory the Great.

Saint Gregory, pray for us. Saint Paul, pray for us.

I also hope that all of you will be praying for us - the seminarians - throughout this whole academic year. We have a much larger seminary-family than last year (which is awesome). As such we ask for all the more prayers for strength in both body and mind as we work through this year - taking another step closer to serving you - the People of God - as priests.

Take care, -Jeremy