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!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Last post...for a while

This semester has been busy for many of the writers of this blog and we feel that at this time we need to cease the blog operation and focus on other ways of engaging those who want to have contact with the seminary and seminarians. We are looking at using the blog for those who would like to follow the two classes who will be traveling to Israel and Rome this coming January. Until then, thank you for your loyal following of this blog and may God bless you.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Catechism is sweet!

So I was reading the Catechism and poof!~
2639-"Praise is the form of prayer which recognizes most immediately that God is God. It lauds God for his own sake and gives Him glory, quite beyond what He does, but simply because HE IS. It shares in the blessed happiness of the pure of heart who love God in faith before seeing Him in glory. By praise, the Spirit is joined to our spirits to bear witness that we are children of God,"121 Cf.Rom 8:16. (CCC)

I don't know why this strikes me as beautiful, but it makes me pretty happy. God has raised my fallen nature! I can do this! Praise be God!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Peace, and a new scene opens

Well, things are still thick as ever, but I have found some firm waves on which to stand. In fact, this weekend has opened out as a rare opportunity to get a bit ahead and enjoy some recreation. As always, I hope to recreate as Christ would, or at least with Him. Which reminds me of that hymn of Elizabeth Poston, a person about whom I otherwise know nothing. But who are we to say what our great contribution is in the Providence of God? Perhaps He called me into the seminary only to move other men through it. Perhaps He called Elizabeth only to arrange this music. Take a rest beneath the Apple Tree.


Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Radical Dependence

Chesterton deserves to his picture up in these pages at least once.

As much as I like poetry, I do not have much enthusiasm for trite, rhyming slogans. Among these I would count, "The Attitude has to be Gratitude" and its family of variations. However, as much as I don't like the expression I cannot deny the content. There is a way in which being thankful for what one has never fails to brighten the day, open up new possibilities, and clarify how the situation is not nearly that dire. Chesterton captures this, rather well I think (though my bias is known) in his biography of St. Francis:

"If a man saw the world upside down, with all the trees and towers hanging head downwards as in a pool, one effect would be to emphasise the idea of dependence. There is a Latin and literal connection; for the very word dependence only means hanging. It would make vivid the Scriptural text which says that God has hung the world upon nothing. If Saint Francis had seen, in one of his strange dreams, the town of Assisi upside down, it need not have differed in a single detail from itself except in being entirely the other way round. But the point is this: that whereas to the normal eye the large masonry of its walls or the massive foundations of its watchtowers and its high citadel would make it seem safer and more permanent, the moment it was turned over the very same weight would make it seem more helpless and more in peril. It is but a symbol; but it happens to fit the psychological fact. Saint Francis might love his little town as much as before, or more than before; but the nature of the love would be altered even in being increased. He might see and love every tile on the steep roofs or every bird on the battlements; but he would see them all in a new and divine light of eternal danger and dependence. Instead of being merely proud of his strong city because it could not be moved, he would be thankful to God Almighty that it had not been dropped; he would be thankful to God for not dropping the whole cosmos like a vast crystal to be shattered into falling stars. Perhaps Saint Peter saw the world so, when he was crucified head-downwards."

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The contradiction

Gerard Manely Hopkins has a remarkably introspective poem which nevertheless stands apart from most of his other introspective poems. Usually, he writes as one gripped by an immanent depression, tensely gripping what consolation he has. In Heaven-Haven, however, which bears the subtitle "A nun takes the veil," Hopkins writes:

I have asked to go
Where springs not fail,
To fields where flies no sharp and sided hail
And a few lilies blow.

And I have asked to be
Where no storms come,
Where the green swell is in the havens dumb
And out of the swing of the sea.

As the grip of my academics, seminary events, the ever-pressing SCHEDULE drives me down like it never has before, I recall these words for simple ability to soothe. Those closing anapests create a gentle settling calm.

However, the actual text of the poem reveals the contradiction. In this perfect calm, there is a desire for at least a little bit of activity. In the perfect, stormless fields a few lilies blow. As the moorlands roll along the horizon, they recall the jostle and thrust of a rising sea. And is that not where I would be, right now, if I didn't have anything to do? Longing for some high adventure even though, gripped as I am in this moment, this right now, I plead to be out of the swing of the sea?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Another Martyrdom

I highly recommend reading Cardinal Newman's Sermon entitled Ventures of Faith. It begins with the Gospel of Mark, at the passage in which James and John approach Jesus with the request to sit at His right and left when He comes into His glory. When asked if they are able to drink his cup and be baptized with his baptism they famously reply that they are. This firm, "We are able" becomes the basis for Newman's sermon. He inquires whether or not we Christians, claiming, as we do, a strong faith, have actually ventured anything upon it? How would our lives be one bit different if the Gospel were a great falsehood? Newman fears that, sadly, many of us would not be living much differently. At the close of his sermon, Newman returns to James and John an points out that both gave themselves entirely, indeed, ventured all upon their faith in Jesus Christ:

"Those blessed Apostles said, 'We are able;' and in truth they were enabled to do and suffer as they had said. St. James was given strength to be steadfast unto death, the death of martyrdom; being slain with the sword in Jerusalem. St. John, his brother, had still more to bear, dying last of the Apostles, as St. James first. He had to hear bereavement, first, of his brother, then of the other Apostles. He had to bear a length of years in loneliness, exile, and weakness. He had to experience the dreariness of being solitary, when those whom he loved had been summoned away. He had to live in his own thoughts, without familiar friend, with those only about him who belonged to a younger generation. Of him were demanded by his gracious Lord, as pledges of his faith, all his eye loved and his heart held converse with. He was as a man moving his goods into a far country, who at intervals and by portions sends them before him, till his present abode is well-nigh unfurnished. He sent forward his friends on their journey, while he stayed himself behind, that there might be those in heaven to have thoughts of him, to look out for him, and receive him when his Lord should call. He sent before him, also, other still more voluntary pledges and ventures of his faith,—a self-denying walk, a zealous maintenance of the truth, fasting and prayers, labours of love, a virgin life, buffetings from the heathen, persecution, and banishment. Well might so great a Saint say, at the end of his days "Come, Lord Jesus!" as those who are weary of the night, and wait for the morning. All his thoughts, all his contemplations, desires, and hopes, were stored in the invisible world; and death, when it came, brought back to him the sight of what he had worshipped, what he had loved, what he had held intercourse with, in years long past away. Then, when again brought into the presence of what he had lost, how would remembrance revive, and familiar thoughts long buried come to life! Who shall dare to describe the blessedness of those who find all their pledges safe returned to them, all their ventures abundantly and beyond measure satisfied?"

John, as the above passage makes clear, did not suffer a martyrdom like his brother, acute, quick, and early in the life of the Church. John, however, did not. That is one of the famous bits of Church trivia. All the apostles were martyrs, less one. St. John lived long and suffered long in the first days, the birth pangs of Christianity. And this was a real sacrifice, and it would not have been had John simply given over the Gospel. Who knows how often that might have been his temptation? One by one the Twelve were called to Heaven. In those final stages, standing in the room "unfurnished," lonely, watching a new generation of Christians, zealous but unwitting, inspiring but clearly not of the apostolic band, how often did John question to what exactly he had given everything? This is a real suffering, and it counts, too, as a sort of witness, though less flashy. St. John, pray for us.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Rev.do Mons. Paul D. Sirba

Il Santo Padre ha nominato Vescovo di Duluth (U.S.A.) il Rev.do Mons. Paul D. Sirba, del clero dell’arcidiocesi di Saint Paul and Minneapolis, finora Vicario Generale della medesima arcidiocesi.

Rev.do Mons. Paul D. Sirba

Il Rev.do Mons. Paul D. Sirba è nato nella città di Saint Paul (Minnesota) il 2 settembre 1960. Ha compiuto gli studi presso il Seminario arcidiocesano di Saint Paul and Minneapolis e presso il "Notre Dame Institute for Catechetics" ad Alexandria (Virginia).

È stato ordinato sacerdote il 31 maggio 1986 per l’arcidiocesi di Saint Paul and Minneapolis.

Ha poi ricoperto i seguenti incarichi: Vicario parrocchiale della "Saint Olaf Parish" a Minneapolis (1986-1990) e della "Saint John the Baptist Parish" a Savage (1990-1991); Direttore Spirituale del Seminario "Saint John Vianney" (1991-2000); Amministratore Parrocchiale della "Maternity of Mary Parish" a Maplewood (2000-2001); Parroco della "Maternity of Mary Parish" a Maplewood (2001-2006); Direttore della Formazione Spirituale nel "Saint Paul Seminary" a Saint Paul (2006-2009); Vicario Generale della medesima arcidiocesi (dal giugno 2009).

* * *

From Vatican News

Lord, let your face shine on your servant;
teach me your decrees.

ReadingZechariah 8:1-17,20-23 ©
The word of the Lord of Hosts was addressed to me as follows:
‘The Lord of Hosts says this.
I am burning with jealousy for Zion,
with great anger for her sake.
‘The Lord of Hosts says this.
I am coming back to Zion
and shall dwell in the middle of Jerusalem.
Jerusalem will be called Faithful City
and the mountain of the Lord of Hosts, the Holy Mountain.
‘The Lord of Hosts says this.
Old men and old women will again sit down
in the squares of Jerusalem;
every one of them staff in hand
because of their great age.
And the squares of the city will be full
of boys and girls
playing in the squares.
‘The Lord of Hosts says this.
If this seems a miracle
to the remnant of this people (in those days),
will it seem one to me?
It is the Lord of Hosts who speaks.
‘The Lord of Hosts says this.
Now I am going to save my people
from the countries of the East
and from the countries of the West.
I will bring them back
to live inside Jerusalem.
They shall be my people
and I will be their God
in faithfulness and integrity.
‘The Lord of Hosts says this. Let your hands be strong, you who here and now listen to these words from the mouths of the prophets who have been prophesying since the day when the Temple of the Lord of Hosts had its foundation laid for the rebuilding of the sanctuary. For before the present day men were not paid their wages and nothing was paid for the animals either; and because of the enemy there was no security for a man to go about his business; I had set every man against everyone else. But now, with the remnant of this people, I am not as I was in the past. It is the Lord of Hosts who speaks. For I mean to spread peace everywhere; the vine will give its fruit, the earth its increase, and heaven its dew. I am going to bestow all these blessings on the remnant of this people. Just as once you were a curse among the nations, you House of Judah (and House of Israel), so I mean to save you for you to become a blessing. Do not be afraid; let your hands be strong.
‘For the Lord of Hosts says this. Just as I once resolved to inflict evil on you when your ancestors provoked me – says the Lord of Hosts – and as I did not then relent, so now I have another purpose, and I intend in the present day to confer benefits on Jerusalem and on the House of Judah. Do not be afraid.
‘These are the things that you must do. Speak the truth to one another; let the judgements at your gates be such as conduce to peace; do not secretly plot evil against one another; do not love false oaths; since all this is what I hate. It is the Lord who speaks.
‘The Lord of Hosts says this. There will be other peoples yet, and citizens of great cities. And the inhabitants of one city will go to the next and say, “Come, let us go and entreat the favour of the Lord, and seek the Lord of Hosts; I am going myself.” And many peoples and great nations will come to seek the Lord of Hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favour of the Lord.
‘The Lord of Hosts says this. In those days, ten men of nations of every language will take a Jew by the sleeve and say, “We want to go with you, since we have learnt that God is with you.”’

ReadingSt Teresa of Avila
Let us always be mindful of Christ's love
If Christ Jesus dwells in a man as his friend and noble leader, that man can endure all things, for Christ helps and strengthens us and never abandons us. He is a true friend. And I clearly see that if we expect to please him and receive an abundance of his graces, God desires that these graces must come to us from the hands of Christ, through his most sacred humanity, in which God takes delight.
Many, many times I have perceived this through experience. The Lord has told it to me. I have definitely seen that we must enter by this gate if we wish his Sovereign Majesty to reveal to us great and hidden mysteries. A person should desire no other path, even if he is at the summit of contemplation; on this road he walks safely. All blessings come to us through our Lord. He will teach us, for in beholding his life we find that he is the best example.
What more do we desire from such a good friend at our side? Unlike our friends in the world, he will never abandon us when we are troubled or distressed. Blessed is the one who truly loves him and always keeps him near. Let us consider the glorious Saint Paul: it seems that no other name fell from his lips than that of Jesus, because the name of Jesus was fixed and embedded in his heart. Once I had come to understand this truth, I carefully considered the lives of some of the saints, the great contemplatives, and found that they took no other path: Francis, Anthony of Padua, Bernard, Catherine of Siena. A person must walk along this path in freedom, placing himself in God’s hands. If God should desire to raise us to the position of one who is an intimate and shares his secrets, we ought to accept this gladly.
Whenever we think of Christ we should recall the love that led him to bestow on us so many graces and favours, and also the great love God showed in giving us in Christ a pledge of his love; for love calls for love in return. Let us strive to keep this always before our eyes and to rouse ourselves to love him. For if at some time the Lord should grant us the grace of impressing his love on our hearts, all will become easy for us and we shall accomplish great things quickly and without effort.

Concluding Prayer
Lord, may your grace go always before us and behind us:
may it make us constantly eager to do good works.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Was Shakespeare Catholic?

Of all the things to be thinking about right now: Johannine Literature, Prophetic Literature, Moral Theology ... I suppose this is my escape. There's a lot of writing out there about this question. Fr. John Klockeman raised it at the lunch table today and I stated with all the authority granted by an English Major from the University of St. Thomas, "I think the book is pretty much closed on that. He was Catholic."

People with much more time for the scholarship have given lots of study to the question and tried to find clues in his works to decided the question. Others, more inclined to historical study, have gone through his biography to try and make a determination. Both techniques have to guess at the "lost years" of Shakespeare's life. Joseph Pearce does a rather unique study that tries to blend the approaches. In that work, he suggests a number of passages that, based on time of composition, could be understood as reflecting a sort of catharsis for Shakespeare's suffering in the midst of the religious upheavals. Whether or not one is convinced by the evidence, Shakespeare always makes good reading. Here's a passage from King Lear that might give evidence of how Shakespeare understood the plight of those Jesuits and other priests who were locked away in the tower simply for the crime of being priests:

LEAR: No, no, no, no! Come, let's away to prison.
We two alone will sing like birds i' the cage.
When thou dost ask me blessing, I'll kneel down
And ask of thee forgiveness. So we'll live,
And pray, and sing, and tell old tales and laugh
At gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues
Talk of Court news. And we'll talk with them too,
Who loses and who wins, who's in, who's out,
And take upon's the mystery of things
As if we were God's spies. And we'll wear out,
In a walled prison, packs and sects of great ones
That ebb and flow by the moon.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Wandering around the Mall of America

Yesterday I went to the Mall of America to walk around and simply to think. Every once in a while I need to get off campus and wander around at a bookstore or go to a coffee shop to read a book that is not for class (usually a Michael Crichton novel or a biography). About once a semester I make the trek over to the Mall of America to walk the four levels of the place to look at things and get a nice walk in. I rarely buy anything because most of the shops there are specialty shops for shoes, clothes, etc. that I really have no desire for. Yesterday I got to thinking about things as I walked around. Nothing magnificent came from my time at the mall but it's just nice to get away.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Our Lady of the Rosary

I've blogged in the past about G.K. Chesterton's poem Lepanto. Today's feast commemorates the famous victory in that gulf off the coast of Greece when the fleet of Christendom defeated the Turks in a battle that decided the future of Europe. Originally, today's memorial was dedicated to Our Lady under the title of Our Lady of Victory. However, it was through the rosary, prayed by Catholics across Europe, that the victory was wrought.

Among the many devotional practices frequently recommended in the seminary is the daily rosary. And though there is certainly no requirement of the Church to take up the practice, I find that many of my brother seminarians have made it an integral part of their daily round of prayer. This string of beads has been called the "poor man's psalter" not in an effort to be insulting but merely in an effort to capture the true history of the thing. Between the 150 psalms and the 15 decades there is an intended correlation. Largely illiterate Early Christendom struggled to find a way to spread a devotional life. This was not an age when pamphlets would find much success. So, the devotion of the rosary with its simple repetition of prayers came as the solution. It was, more properly, the poor man's Liturgy of the Hours.

As seminarians, we pray the Liturgy of the Hours daily, but, as I observed above, many seminarians pray the rosary as well. John Paul II, it is worth noting, held the rosary as his favorite prayer. The rosary has, in a sense, come into its own as a daily meditation on the gospel, and prayer of great efficacy. Certainly, it is simpler than the Liturgy of the Hours. And, unlike the Liturgy, the rosary is not required of clergy and seminarians. There is a certain favor God shows to the small, the poor, the weak. Whether it was the alien, orphan, and widow dwelling in the land of Israel or a poor girl of Nazareth, God tends to bring about the greatest by the workings of the least. In an image suggested by Marmion, the rosary can be likened to the 5 smooth stones pulled from the wadi by David when he slew Goliath of Gath. This simple string of Pater Noster and Ave Maria defeated the Turkish fleet. It seems to be in keeping with God's preferences that it should accomplish other great things in the history of Salvation, like bringing men through to ordination.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Irons in the Fire

As a person constantly interested in the origin of words and phrases, I can remember musing on certain expressions thematically linked by similar vocabulary. Consider the traditional exhortation, which I realize some may never have heard or used, "strike while the iron is hot." My grandmother is fond of saying, "I have too many irons in the fire." I presume these both have something to do with blacksmithing but for years I was picturing an iron one would use to press clothes.

I used the phrases anyway. Chesterton observed that we have this tendency to use phrases, even words, that recall metaphors and allusions entirely lost. I've said to several people here since the year started that I have "too many irons in the fire" and they all seem to understand though I know of none who actually have entered a blacksmith's shop.

Speaking of Chesterton, another tradition of mine for the autumn which is nearly upon us (it has gotten rather brisk outside over the last few days) is the reading of Chesterton's Ballad of the White Horse, a piece of poetry I would recommend to anyone for multiple reads. This book-length poem tells the story of Alfred holding England against a Danish (think vikings) invasion and contains the less than perfectly consoling exhortation of The Virgin Mary to Alfred through a vision:

"The wise men know all evil things
Under the Twisted Trees,
Where the perverse in pleasure pine
And men are weary of green wine
And sick of crimson seas.

"But and all the kind of Christ
are ignorant and brave,
And you have wars you hardly win
And souls you hardly save.

"I tell you naught for your comfort,
Yea, naught for your desire,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher.

"Night shall be thrice night over you,
And heaven an iron cope.
Do you have joy without a cause,
Yea, faith without a hope?"

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What's going on at the seminary?

The past few weeks have been busy with classes, teaching parish responsibilities, and many other things.

Last night at our community dinner we welcomed some of the retired priests from the Byrne Residence to share a meal with us. Each of them had much to share about their vocation and their life as a priest.

This coming Saturday the St. Paul Seminary Sons of Thunder will face off against the Jaxx of St. John Vianney seminary in the annual Rector's Bowl. The game is set to begin at 7:00 pm with a post-game party at the St. Paul Seminary.

This past weekend the men of theology I spent some time at a retreat center called Pacem in Terris (peace on earth). From my visits there, I have always returned well rested and recollected and it sounds like they did too.

Friday, September 25, 2009

This weeks Sunday Scriptures from the Catholic Spirit

This week, Deacon Joseph Jiang of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, MO gives a reflection on this Sunday's Mass readings

There is a difference between the saints and us, but not much. The difference is that they will what God wills in little things.

Today, we recognize that difference in Moses, a man with great courage and faith, a shepherd called to lead the house of Israel, and a mediator chosen to enter into divine intimacy with the Lord, not for himself but rather for the house of Israel. He knows for what purpose he has been called; therefore, he is not selfish, but rather desires everyone of the house of Israel to share in his spirit and take part in his relationship with God.

Moses has tasted the joy and peace of doing God’s will, and he makes this wish: “Would that all the people of the Lord were prophets! Would that the Lord might bestow his spirit on them all!”

It doesn’t mean that it is easy to do God’s will or mediate his will to the house of Israel. There are times when the Israelites wanted to kill Moses after he had made known God’s will to them, which was contrary to theirs. In doing God’s will persistently, Moses gives himself more and more to God, and he is drawn closer and closer to him. Even his face shines like the sun so that he has to cover it up with a veil. In doing God’s will, Moses also brings the house of Israel closer to God.

What a perfect image for our priest. In his faithfulness to his priestly vows, to celebrating the Eucharist and other sacraments, and to a life of prayer, we could say that his face also shines like the sun, the holiness of the priesthood of Christ manifesting itself in him. Through Christ, the priest lifts up his parish family to God. What a blessing and gift.

Moses wants each one of the Israelites to share his spirit so that they may also discern the will of God, so that the house of Israel can truly be a house of God.

An image for the parish

What a perfect image for our parish community.

The Lord wills his priests to lift us up before him, and he commands his priests to feed us with himself. But the Lord also wants us to walk with his priests to meet him in prayer, in the Eucharist, in the confessional and to discern his will for us in our daily lives.

In willing what God wills for us, we not only become closer to him, we also bring our parish community, and those who are struggling or suffering, closer to him. We need this genuine support from our priests, each other and our parish community in this difficult time for our nation and world, so that we may be protected from making decisions that harm ourselves and others, especially the most vulnerable and unborn.

In this spirit of unity and charity, our parish community can truly be a house of God and a genuine school of prayer, “where the meeting with Christ is expressed not just in imploring help but also in thanksgiving, praise, adoration, contemplation, listening and ardent devotion, until the heart truly ‘falls in love’” (John Paul II, Apostolic Letter at the Close of the Jubilee year, “Novo Millennio Ineunte,” 33).

As our parish community becomes a genuine school of prayer, each one of us will benefit. We will become closer to Christ, and our heart will be transformed to a heart of love, commitment, understanding and a heart for others. Even more so, we may become a source of strength and healing for those who are struggling and suffering, for those who are searching for the meaning of their lives in the midst of our secularized and materialized world, and for our society.

Deacon Joseph Jiang is in formation for the priesthood at the St. Paul Seminary. He is a seminarian for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, and his teaching parish is St. John the Baptist in New Brighton.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Good Reading: Sept. 24, 2009

The Forgiveness of Sins

The Church is incapable of forgiving any sin without Christ, and Christ is unwilling to forgive any sin without the Church. The Church cannot forgive the sin of one who has not repented, who has not been touched by Christ; Christ will not forgive the sin of one who despises the Church. What God has joined together, man must not separate. This is a great mystery, but I understand it as referring to Christ and the Church.

Do not destroy the whole Christ by separating head from body, for Christ is not complete without the Church, nor is the Church complete without Christ. The whole and complete Christ is head and body. This is why he said: No one has ever ascended into heaven except the Son of Man whose is in heaven. He is the only man who can forgive sin.

* * *

From a sermon by blessed Isaac of Stella, abbot

The Office of Readings: Friday, 23rd Week in Ordinary Time

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Good Reading: Sept. 23, 2009

The Liturgy as Synergy between the Trinity and the Church
Each person of the Most Holy Trinity pours himself out upon the Church in a kenosis of self-giving. The Church, in her celebration of the liturgy, responds in kind; by blessing the Father, by clinging to Christ as the Bride clings to her Bridegroom and as the Body is joined to its Head, and by cooperating with the Holy Spirit in a joint activity of preparation, remembrance, transfiguration and communion. Because we are flesh and blood, God in his mercy has so ordered the economy of our salvation that this divine communion with him should take place not in the realm of subjective fancy, but in the objective celebration of the divine mysteries. In the liturgy, the “Yes” of God to man encounters the “Yes” of man to God: the divine initiative meets Marian consent:

This kind of “Yes” on the part of the Virgin allowed the incarnation of the Word to take place; it was likewise from the consent of the humanity of Jesus that the divinizing light of the transfiguration sprang, and it is the same consent by the Church that allows the liturgy to be celebrated and lived (Corbon: The Wellspring of Worship, p. 74).

* * *

From “The Holy Spirit and the Church in the Liturgy” by Cassian Folsom

Class: Introduction to the Sacraments and Worship

The Father's Tender Love

Last semester, my moral theology teacher urged our class to never forget that in the confessional a priest must reflect the Father's tender love. "Satan," he pointed out, "will do whatever he can to distract you from the surgery," meaning the confession and recognition of the penitent's real sin. "At the same time, never forget the Father's tender love."

I have detected after some eight years of seminary the general assumption that I and the majority of the young whipper-snappers aiming to be priests are zealous, more than slightly inconsiderate, self-imagined stormtroopers coming in a great wave to single-handedly save the Church. Realizing my obvious lack of objectivity, I wish to state for the record that I don't think that is true. All the same, an document sent to me by a former blogger now priest contained an amusing reminder of just how careful the Church is when it comes to the difficult duty of administering correction to her members.

In a document to the Bishops Conference of England and Wales regarding a proposed translation of liturgical rubrics, the recommendation appears in a list of some 114 points:

"101. The affirmation of n. 56 is not true. It would be best to omit it."

Lacking the time to find the original translation on which this is commenting, I cannot be sure of the content of n. 56, but I can imagine a scenario. Rather than fire back with "n. 56 is false," the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments came back with this rather classy, gentle suggestion. I pray that all men in formation will be able to administer correction in such a way.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Novena Prayer to St. Therese

On Wednesday September 23, a novena to St. Therese of Lisieux will begin. She is one of the most well-known Carmelite saints and during the year of the priest, I think she is a model for praying for priests. Much of her life was dedicated to praying for priests and for the conversion of sinners. The following prayer was composed by Pope Benedict XV

O Little Therese of the Child Jesus, who during your short life on earth became a mirror of angelic purity, of love strong as death, and of whole-hearted abandonment to God, now that you rejoice in the reward of you virtues, cast a glance of pity on me as I leave all things in your hands. Make my troubles your own - speak a word to Our Lady Immaculate, whose flower of special love you were - to the Queen of heaven "who smiled on you at the dawn of life." Beg her as queen of the Heart of Jesus, to obtain for me by her powerful intercession, the grace I yearn for so ardently at this moment, and that she join with it a blessing that may strengthen me during life, defend me at the hour of death, and lead me straight on to a happy eternity. Amen.

The picture is from the Missionaries of Charity house in Venezuela. One of the days we were down there we helped paint a few rooms. The translation reads: "I will spend my heaven doing good on earth."

Sunday, September 20, 2009

How do you say no to that?

After mass today at my teaching parish, I was visiting with a group of people that I have gotten to know. One of children that was around was trying to raise money for the school marathon, which is one of the ways to defray costs for nonpublic education. I was happy to help a very active second grader.

While I was in Sioux Falls living at home one of the moms from the neighborhood was accompanying her son who happens to go to the elementary school that I went to. The school was doing a raffle and he presented the tickets and asked how many I would like. I said that I would purchase a couple of them, but all I had in my wallet was a 20 dollar bill. He noticed that I had a 20 and told his mom: "He should get more than two because he's got a 20!" I still only purchased a couple of them.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Looking Back and Looking Ahead

I am taking a class on the writings of John Henry Cardinal Newman. Currently, we are moving through his Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine which is actually an unfinished work. He started writing it in the 1840's and was eventually so convinced by his own arguments that he became a Catholic.

A key component of his argument seems to run contrary to a lot of resourcement thinking. At the end of section one of chapter one, he points out that in the realm of ideas - philosophies, religions, etc. - the earliest and most ancient forms do not always represent the best that the idea has to offer. Consider, for example, the maturation of a child. Perhaps a child of five would be seen as very intelligent were he able to draw with crayons a rough aproximation of the solar system. However, if this was still the limit of his capability at the age of fifty, employed as an astronomer, it would seem he had lost what little intelligence he had at five. Greater precision and refinement of the art is expected as the practitioner matures. Hence, Newman notes: "It is indeed sometimes said that the stream is clearest near the spring. Whatever use may fairly be made of this image, it does not apply to hte history of a philosophy or belief, which on the contrary is more equable , and purer, and stronger, when its bed has become deep, and broad, and full."

So, was Newman a fanatical progressive?

Such a conclusion seems premature. Consider his sermon on the life of St. Philip Neri. He points out that the Apostle of Rome's distinctive feature was his glance back to antiquity. He nurtured his great project of the oratory not in the boisterous practices of renaissance Rome but those of the Apostolic Age. He quotes Baronius who notes in the history of the order that it was built "on the pattern of the Apostolic Age".

So, then, was Newman simply confused or perhaps changeable in his thought. Certainly he would have admitted the development of his own ideas as much as the develoment of the Church's doctrines. But could this be evidence of an outright contradiction?

St. Philip Neri was great, as Newman has it, for his glance back, but he just as much lived among the movements of his time. Philip did not cast off the trappings of renaissance Rome but revitalized them with the touch of the Gospel. When he had discourse, as Newman recalls, with the saints of Apostolic Ages, it was to decide how to move in the present. Newman relates that Philip's decision to make Rome "his indies" and go on mission in the heart of Christian Europe was developed after consultation with St. John the Evangelist.
The point is, Philip does not represent a crazed archaelogism anymore than Newman represents an overzealous progressivism. A hermeneutic of continuity, as Pope Benedict XVI would suggest, requires that we actually find from St. Paul to St. Philip to Newman a discernible link and yet clear differences. Each responded to his age. The Gospel, lived in each, mingled with the signs of the times and yet remained distinctly what it is so that each man, speaking a different language, bearing a different face, is recognized by all as holy.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

This is # 800

This blog now has 800 posts and with this there are some additions that have been made.

The first is that a new year has begun and classes are underway.

There are new dioceses and religious orders that are now represented. The Diocese of Des Moines and Davenport in Iowa now have men studying here. Two religious orders have men studying here. One is an order from Peru and it is called Pro Ecclesia Sancta and The Emmanuel Community. The seminarians from Pro Ecclesia Sancta are living at the rectory of St. Mark's parish which is the closest parish to our campus. The Emmanuel Community has a relatively short history, the statutes and constitutions were approved in 1998. The links to the various dioceses and religious orders can be found on the left-hand side of the blog's home page.

We have three new priests on staff. Fr. Jeff Huard is a member of the Companions of Christ which is made up of priests and seminarians who live in community and have a unique way of life. Fr. John Klockeman was previously at St. Olaf parish and most recently served as a formation and spiritual director at St. John Vianney college seminary. Fr. Robert Pish has been studying in Washington D.C. for the past two years and is back as a formation advisor and will serve as the dean of men and assist the men of pre-theology.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

New Translation of the Roman Missal

For quite a few years now there has been a lot of work done in order to offer the English speaking people of the world a new translation of the Roman Missal. The Missal is the liturgical text which the ministers of the Church use for the celebration of the Mass. There have been various versions of this new translation and it is nearing completion. Why is this being done? That's a good question. In short things are always lost in translation and when the prayers of the Church were translated during the transition to the ordinary form of the Roman rite, things were done with great haste and because of that some parts were not translated as well as they could be. One of the principles of translation that was not used as well during the transition was keeping quotations from Sacred Scripture as accurate as possible.

Here is an example:

In the current translation the following is said before the priest receives communion:

Priest: This is the Lamb of God
who takes away
the sins of the world.
Happy are those who are called
to his supper.

All: Lord, I am not worthy
to receive you,
but only say the word
and I shall be healed.

The following is the proposed translation:
Priest: 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.

All: Lord, I am not worthy
that you should enter under my roof,
but only say the word
and my soul shall be healed.

The differences may seem minor but they stick closer to the Scripture references which are made to both the story of the healing of the centurion's soldier in Matthew chapter 8 and the reference to the supper of the Lamb found in Revelation chapter 19. This is one of many moves to have a more authentic translation of the Mass.

This new translation has a big impact on us. The hopeful date for implementation is sometime in 2011, which God-willing is the year that I will be ordained a priest and therefore I would begin my priesthood celebrating the Mass with different liturgical books. It is something to keep in mind and to give some time to study some of the proposed changes.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

On the Eve

I've started all the ritual preparations of the night before class: putting tabs in my three-ring binders, checking and re-checking booklists, reviewing the schedule and room locations . . . Deacon Barnes just came through and blessed my room. We're ready to roll . . .

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Back in the saddle

Although classes don't start until Thursday, all of the seminarians will be here tonight to start the year off with a day of recollection. Each year we have more and more of these days to help us remain focused spiritually and I feel like I always need something like this to settle me down from moving in and the like. There are many new faces here at the seminary and for a guy in Theology III it makes it hard to get to know them because we don't interact in any of our classes and they have been busy with orientation. Over time I hope to get to know them and spend some quality time with them. I am off to get some reading done because like you all know it doesn't get itself done.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

St. Joseph Cathedral in Sioux Falls, SD

A while ago I mentioned the fact that the Cathedral Church in Sioux Falls, SD was going to be restored. Construction began after the celebration of the diaconate and priesthood ordinations. The picture to the left is what the Cathedral looked like during the procession for the most recent ordination to the priesthood. Take a good look and compare to the next photo.

Does it look a little different? Where did the pews go? Most parts of the pews will be refinished, some parts will be redone. The high altar along with the canopy (tester) was taken out and is in storage somewhere to hopefully be used in another church somewhere. Right now the Church that sits on a hill overlooking the city of Sioux Falls is not in use, nor will it be for quite some time.

This last picture is a schematic of what the Cathedral will look like after the work is complete.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Pictures from Venezuela

One of the days we were in Venezuela we painted a couple of areas fro the Missionaries of Charity. The sisters run a house for men dying of AIDS. We painted a room where medical supplies would be stored.

On another of the days we took a group of orphans to a local national park for a picnic lunch and some futbol, frisbee, and playing catch.

In the afternoon we went to a local school that had been conducting a school/camp for youth to give them tools of evangelization, prayer, and living a Christian life.

This was taken outside of one of the chapels in a barrio (neighborhood). Students from St. Thomas Academy helped donate and build a school that is present at the chapel.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Still cleaning out

I am still cleaning out my room at my parent's house. I have cleaned out most of the drawers and have either thrown away, donated, or set aside things to have around the house for my niece when my brother and sister-in-law visit. My next task is the books that I own. I have a couple of bookshelves at the seminary that are plum full of books that I have used for class and will most likely use in the coming years of study.

What do I do with some of the fiction books that I read in high school? I am in the midst of cataloguing them in my computer and like any data entry stuff it can get boring very fast. There are some that I forgot I had like an old Latin book or The Gospel According to the Simpsons. There are several I still need to read.

I hope to get some posts up later on today about our trip to Venezuela as well as some pictures from our time down there.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

I am a pack rat

This past week I have been cleaning out some things that I have been collecting or holding on to for quite some time. I still have an olive-colored suit coat and pants that I wore during high school and since I have been out of high school for close to six years I think that it is time to find someone who will be able to use it. I have discovered other items that I have kept for no apparent reason and really have no use for any more.

I come from a family of pack rats. My mother is a quilter and she saves pieces of fabric for all sorts of stuff. My dad collects newspapers with some major events (9-11, sports events, elections, etc.) and others I have no idea why there are around the house. I have stuff that has some sentimental value (mainly items from deceased relatives) and others are gifts that were at one time useful and no longer hold a special place in my heart.

There are still more piles of stuff to sort through and get rid of. I am in the midst of cleaning my closet out and it is taking a while to think back to the last time I wore a particular shirt. A trip to Goodwill is in need this coming week once I have boxed things up and say goodbye to that suit that I will probably never wear.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Back in the USA

We got back around five o'clock last night and got a shower in and some American food. Some luggage didn't make it with us because we almost missed our flight from Houston to St. Paul. I'm up in St. Paul still because my parents came up to see the place and go to a Twins game. Hopefully it's a little more competitive than last night 11-0 shutout in favor of the Twins. I will post pictures when I get back to Sioux Falls for a couple of weeks off.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Heading out tomorrow

Tomorrow we leave for Caracas where we will stay for a night. Friday we leave bright and early (and hopefully a little cooler) for Houston and then St. Paul. A nice cheeseburger will be in order once we reach the states. Pray that things go well, especially in Houston because we have a very short amount of time to go through customs and get to our gate for the flight from Houston to the Cities.

Monday, August 10, 2009

So far so good

We have been in Venezuala for almost a week and things are going well. We have visited several barrios (neighborhoods) and other sites. I can't update too much right now, but I will once we get back to St. Paul. We are still going strong in the intense heat. St. Paul, pray for us.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

In the Houston airport

We are sitting in the Houston airport and we fly out at midnight. So far so good.

Off we go

In 45 minutes the men of Theology III will be heading to the airport to fly to Venezuela. We stop in Houston for a few hours and then head to Caracas. Please pray that we don't get lost, separated, sick, etc. I will try to update but may have some difficulty and I will update the blog with pictures and descriptions of what we did. Until next time, adios.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Off to retreat soon

Leaving soon for retreat. The retreat master will be Fr. William Baer, rector of St. John Vianney seminary in St. Paul, MN. I have known Fr. Baer for a while now, it should be interesting to hear what he has to say.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Pope Saint Clement Adoring the Trinity Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, 1737-38

by James Lannan, Theology III
Saint Paul Seminary


This is Part 3 of a Summer 2009 multi-part series on religious art that I enjoy. I made a personal pilgrimage to the Rome in August 2007. My journey to Saint Peter's Basilica and all of the amazing Churches can be summed up in one sentence I continually repeated: "I had no idea...so much beauty and grandeur for the praise and glory of God."

I do not claim to be an authority on art. I like to say that I know what I like, and what I do not like. My hope is that all who read our blog enjoy my choices and learn something new.

note: not all of my choices to blog on will be from Rome. Many will come from all over the world.

Part 4 will post soon.


Pope Saint Clement Adoring the Trinity Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, 1737-38, Oil on canvas, located in Alte Pinakothek, Munich.

What I like about this painting most is what I will just call "attention to liturgical detail." Saint Clement was Pope in the first century. This painting was painted in the first half of the 18th century. Notice the thurible, the metropolitan cross, the Basilica style dome, the red cloth, and the altar Clement is kneeling before.

The centrality and importance of worshiping God with reverence and adoration in the Catholic Tradition stretches from the 1st century to the 18th century, and forever.

Another thing I find interesting is how Christ is depicted. He is resurrected with his Cross at his side, draped in white. What is interesting about it is how he is "not" depicted in the Trinity; not as the High Priest in chasuble, not as King with a crown and scepter. I wonder why the artist chose to paint Christ this way? Perhaps it is a style indicative to the artists background or the period he comes from in painting.

Thanks for listening...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Time to clean up the blog

A while ago I was put 'in charge' of the blog by the outgoing deacons and I realized that I have to do some editing. The only thing that I have noticed is that some of the dioceses will not be represented by a seminarian this coming year. It's sad to see Dubuque, Winona, Saginaw, and Madison taken off of the list.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Almost time to leave the parish

Right now I am in the middle of writing my last bulletin column for the summer and I am trying to wrap up my time this coming Friday. It is hard to believe that two months have gone so quickly and soon I will be heading up to St. Paul to go to Venezuela for ten days to visit the mission that is operated by the Archdiocese of St. Paul/ Minneapolis.

In the past two weeks we have had three funerals and each of them have been particularly difficult. Today there was a funeral for a still-born child and it is never easy to go to a funeral but to have two little ones never see the light of day and to see a 50 year old take his last breaths hits you and makes you realize that God is in charge.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Imagine another busy week in the parish

A couple of weeks ago I posted on how busy things had been and that has not changed. Each week has been very unique and this past week was no different. On Monday, the pastor of the parish received a phone call from a family in a town about 15 miles south of Sioux Falls. The pastor got a little bit of information: a 50 year old man was dying of brain cancer and it did not look like he would live longer than another day. Most of the family was present minus some brothers and sisters who were driving in. Father began the sacrament of the anointing of the sick and finished with the apostolic pardon. We left knowing that we did all we could do and when we got back to the rectory we received a phone call alerting us that that he had passed away.

Tuesday morning we went down to visit and pray with the family and later that night we went back to begin planning the funeral. Many stories where shared about a great man who left behind a beautiful family. I was not present at the vigil service, but I was told that many of the young men and women that he mentored at a local J-ROTC branch were very touched by his life. The funeral was last Friday and it took a lot out of me personally because he touched so many lives.

This week began with a very tough day. The pastor had gone down to the local retreat center and got a call from a family who had lost their child in-utero. The priest had only been present at a couple of situations such as this. There were other things to consider as well. The child was not able to be baptized and so some care had to be taken with the funeral.

Not a half hour ago I got a call from the same funeral home and it looks like we will be doing the same thing all-over again for a still-born. Please pray for those who are mourning the loss of a loved one.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Imitation of Christ and the Year of the Priest pt. 1

From the Imitation of Christ, book 4, chapter 5:On the Dignity of the Sacrament and on the Priestly Office.

Christ: If you had the purity of an Angel and the holiness of St. John the Baptist, you would not be worthy to receive or to touch this holy Sacrament. No human being has merited to be able to consecrate and touch the Sacrament of Christ, or to receive the Bread of Angels as food.

This is a tremendous mystery, and great is the dignity conferred on priests, which is not granted to the Angels. For only priests, validly ordained in the Church, have this power of offering Holy Mass and consecrating the Body of Christ.

The priest stands in the place of Christ, using God's word according to His command and institution; but God Himself is the principal Author and unseen Worker in this Sacrament. To Him is subject all the He wills to be, and everything obeys His command.

My comments:This passage has given me a great deal to think about in the past few days. Thomas a Kempis reminds us that it is never the physical person who is the one bringing about the sacred mysteries on his own power. It is always Christ who accomplishes the work of salvation.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Who thought summer would be busy. For the past month and a half, there have not been many slow days. It seems that most days there are things that need to be taken care of. This past week I helped teach a baptism prep session for parents who plan to have their children baptized in the coming weeks/month. I taught a couple of sessions on Mary; specifically some of the figures of Mary and prophecies in the Old Testament. This whole week we have been busy with the end of the year financial reports which can be a headache. My brother, sister-in-law, and niece are in town so I have been spending some time with them. This coming week, the parish has it's one year anniversary of the dedication of the Church. Tuesday I will be teaching on Mary in the New Testament. Wednesday I am having a meal at a parishioner's house. Thursday is 'open' so far and so is Friday, but I am sure that will change in the coming days. The time in the parish is always a blessing and I can't help but be excited for what God has in store.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Hospital visits

Whenever I go to the hospital, I never know what kind of situations I might encounter. This past Thursday was no different. The priest who is the primary chaplain was with his family because his mother's funeral was the day before. I went with the priest I have been living with this summer and a transitional deacon at a local parish. We got the patient list and as we went from visit to visit, I could see God at work in many ways. One of the patients had not been to confession in several years and others were different degrees of recovery from surgery or illness. We visited one gentleman at around 3 in the afternoon and he had requested to be anointed. He was not responding to stimuli and was nearing death. His daughter and grand-daughter were present. Fr. Joe asked the daughter if they wanted to wait for more family to arrive before the anointing began and the nurse who had been caring for the gentleman said that it would not be much longer before he would pass away. Fr. Joe began the anointing and after he had anointed the man's head with the oil of the sick, he died. His daughter immediately noticed that he was gone and began to cry and hug her daughter. This moment will be forever etched in my memory because it was the first time that I had present for someone's death. There was nothing eary about it because the man was not in any visible pain or discomfort but it has given me a lot to pray about and thank God for this beautiful moment.

Had we come in three minutes later it would have been a completely different situation. There have been many other moments this summer in which God provides me an oppurtunity to pray over new experiences. This experience reminds me of Mary in Luke 2:19 "And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart."

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy Independence Day

Often I find myself musing on the relationship between church (my Church) and state (my country). In college, the political philosophy of the American Founding was a significant object of my study. Now as a seminarian and aspiring pastor of souls, I wonder about how I will be able to maintain a balanced love of both, especially as those loves and loyalties occasionally stretch my heart in different directions.

But today, our nation's birthday, is simply a day to be grateful to Almighty God -- grateful for the tremendous blessings of freedom, procured by sacrifice undertaken out of love, and under-girded by the sound principles enshrined in our Declaration of Independence. In short, I will always strive to treasure the principles of the American Founding, modern though they may be. I will strive to maintain that those principles are compatible with Catholic Teaching and, at their best, provide fertile ground for a free, religious, and virtuous society.

I think of one of the giants of the American Catholic Church, and one of the greatest American patriots, our own Archbishop John Ireland.

And I offer these pearls of wisdom for the day:

The Servant of God Pope John Paul II, in a 1997 address welcoming the new U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, spoke favorably of the American Experiment.

And in recent memory, our present Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI blessed our country as well.

Finally, I read a very nice piece yesterday in which I learned an interesting fact about the much-maligned writer of the document whose delivery we celebrate today.

God Bless America!
All Glory be to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Ordination Tour - Day 4

On June 26, Deacon Tyler Dennis, the last of the SPS class of 2009, was ordained a Priest of Jesus Christ by his excellency Blase J Cupich, Bishop of Rapid City.

And he is still reeling trying to come to terms with the immensity of the experience.

I have gone back and forth between numbness, elation, and extreme serenity since that evening. All I have to say so far, is that this is beautiful thing God has done for me.

This occasion also marks my final entry on this blog. It has been my pleasure sharing the events, important and mundane, that have led me to this point. I thank you for your prayers and support of me and my brothers who are still preparing for for their own entrance into the order of presbyters. Perhaps one of these days I will begin writing about my experiences in the parish as a priest. For now, I think I will just savor the experience.

Continue to pray for priests.

-- Fr. Tyler

Have You a Mandate?

In about an hour, I will be heading to the Cathedral where I will have the honor of serving as an acolyte for the episcopal consecration of the Most Reverend Lee Piché as the new Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of St. Paul & Minneapolis.

While this is undoubtedly a great day for our local church, I am particularly gratified on this occasion of the elevation of our new bishop. During my first year in seminary, I was blessed to spend a short J-term parish placement with then Fr. Piché at All Saints Church in Lakeville, MN. I was able to observe and learn much about the life of a pastor from one of its finest exemplars. I will always be grateful for that inspiring yet brief learning experience. In this year of the Priest, it is something I will call to mind with great satisfaction.

A liturgical note: one of the neatest parts of the Ordination Mass is the Presentation of the Bishop-Elect. After the bishop-elect is presented, we will hear an inquiry: "Have you a mandate from the Apostolic See?" Then, "We have." And the Archbishop will respond, "Let it be read." We will then hear the words from the Vatican mandating that the Bishop Elect be raised to the responsibility of the Episcopate. The bull will then be placed in the hands of the chancellor of the Archdiocese.

I think this is one of the most captivating parts of the liturgy because it is a manifestation of the relationship between the local church and the Universal Church.

Please offer a brief prayer for our new bishop, asking the intercession of the two Blessed Apostles whom we celebrate today.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


On Monday, there will be two major celebrations in the Church. In St. Paul, Bishop-elect Lee Piche will be ordained to serve as an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis. In Rome, the newly named archbishops will receive the pallium from Pope Benedict XVI. The pallium is made out of wool, which shows his role as chief shepherd of a given territory, and is given to those bishops who are charged with the care of a metropolitan. There are five nails attached to it to remind the archbishop of the five wounds of Christ.

A handful or so of American archbishops will be receiving the pallium.

We will get pictures of both events posted on the blog as soon as we can get them.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

An interesting couple of days

Yesterday was like any other day. We had a wedding which really is nothing jaw-dropping. A couple of hours before the wedding was to start, the priest asked the couple if he could see the marriage license. The next hour or so was pretty frantic. The bride and groom had to go to the courthouse to get the license. The wedding happened and all is well.

Today, I was doing some shopping and I got a phone call from the parish secretary and sounded somewhat frantic. For the past three weeks we have been doing pictures for a directory and the photographers usually need some help getting people checked in. No one showed up to help so I got what I needed and got to the parish to help with that.

On top of all of this three buttons have fallen off the same shirt in the past day. Let's just say I'm getting better at sewing them on.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Rain drops keep falling on my head

This song comes to my mind right now because we have been having torrential downpours that past couple of weeks and now it is starting to disrupt my sleep. I was fast asleep and at about 11:30 the rain and thunder started. It sounded pretty bad and I was worried because my car sits outside and if it started hailing, it would not be a pretty sight to have dents in my car and a smashed windshield. I stayed awake long enough to hear the rain subside and I got a decent amount of sleep.

I will be going to the hospital soon to visit some parishioners, after that some exercise might be in order.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Fr. Tim Vakoc

Last night as I was getting ready to go to bed I found out that Fr. Tim Vakoc, a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis, died on Saturday. Fr. Vakoc was a millitary chaplain and was injured about five years ago when he was traveling back to the base after celebrating Mass for some soldiers. He came back to the United States and spent time in a couple of different millitary hospitals and eventually came back to Minnesota. A couple of years ago, he began to speak again and his cognition was coming back. I was speaking with fellow blogger Ben Little and we both agreed that we have gained an intercessor in heaven.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Year of the Priest

Today begins the year of the priest. Although I am not ordained yet, this year will be very significant for how we view the ministerial priesthood. The following text is from the bulletin article that I wrote for the parish that I am living at this summer.

On Friday June 19th, the year of the priest began. This special year was announced on March 16th and will last until June 19, 2010. It is no coincidence that the year of the priest began on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The image of the Sacred Heart is a reminder of God’s unfailing love for his children. In August, the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Mary Vianney will be celebrated. St. John Vianney is the patron saint of all priests. St. John Vianney was the parish priest in Ars, France and was known for his holiness of life. He was not known for being an intelligent priest and the parish in Ars, France was not vibrant to say the least. He was not expected to do much at this parish, but God had other plans. One of the things that Vianney was known for was the direction that he gave to people in the Sacrament of Penance. In the latter part of his life, he would spend 16 to 18 hours a day hearing the confessions of bishops, priests, religious, and young men and women. It is estimated that 20,000 people would come every year to seek out the sacraments and instruction from this holy man. During this time, he underwent many physical and spiritual trials: he was tempted by the devil, slept very little, and lived on a diet of potatoes. Pope Benedict has stated that St. John Vianney is a model for all priests because of his dedication to serving his flock in a heroic way.

As we begin the year of the priest, there are a few things that we can do as a parish community to participate in this special year. One of the easiest and most important ways to participate is to pray for our priests. There are some great prayers available at www.usccb.org. Another way to participate is to say “Thank-you” to your priest. Priests are present at so many points in our lives: baptisms, weddings, funerals, first confessions, first Eucharist, graduations and many more. In the coming months, please remember to pray for our priests, that they will be given the grace necessary to live their priesthood like St. John Vianney did.

May God bless the priests that are present in our lives.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Most members of the rising Theology II class at Saint Paul Seminary are currently participating in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) programs at various hospitals throughout the Midwest. I, along with two classmates from SPS, and another seminarian from the Diocese of New Ulm, are in Sioux Falls, SD at Avera Health for our CPE placement.

We began on May 26 and will continue until August 7. The four of us here have been split up among several different clinical sites for our pastoral experience. I have been working at a Hospice and nursing home facility, which has enabled me to practice and learn about ministry to the dying and their families. It has been a very powerful and humbling few weeks. I am grateful for the experience, which I am sure will prove beneficial to me as a pastor one day.

Please pray for all of us, and for the patients and their families. CPE can be a test of patience and endurance at times, but in the end will help us to be better shepherds of souls, after the Heart of the Good Shepherd Himself.

All Glory be to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Paintings, Sculptures & Architecture

by James Lannan, Theology III
Saint Paul Seminary


This is Part 2 of a Summer 2009 multi-part series on religious art that I enjoy. I made a personal pilgrimage to the Rome in August 2007. My journey to Saint Peter's Basilica and all of the amazing Churches can be summed up in one sentence I continually repeated: "I had no idea...so much beauty and grandeur for the praise and glory of God."

I do not claim to be an authority on art. I like to say that I know what I like, and what I do not like. My hope is that all who read our blog enjoy my choices and learn something new.

note: not all of my choices to blog on will be from Rome. Many will come from all over the world.

Part 3 will post soon.


The Holy Trinity, by Guido Reni is located in the Cathedral Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini (1587)

The church was built between 1587 and 1597, and was designed by Martino Longhi the Elder. It was donated to the Archconfraternity of Pilgrims and Convalescents, a charitable institution founded by St Philip Neri in 1548 to care for the poor and the sick, especially for poor pilgrims.

The painting is by Guido Reni (4 November 1575 – 18 August 1642), a prominent Italian painter of high-Baroque style. He began his apprenticeship as an artist at age 9.

I really like this painting. First, it is placed over an altar. Presumably the priest would offer the Mass "ad orientem," with the priest and the people of God facing the same direction. This painting is a great focal point for the both the priest and the people. I imagine that if I ever attended Mass at this Church, this painting would catch my eye immediately.

Second, I really like the detail of the Father, Christ the Son on the Cross, and the Holy Spirit soaring out over creation.

Thirdly, I like the contrast of the blue below and the gold above. I recall that I once read that the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Angels are often depicted in blue because of purity and virtue. That would make sense with the Archangels there (at least, I think they are Archangels). The gold swirls with clouds of angels behind God, the Father, giving a kind of perspective that the infinite abyss of the heavens.

This painting is awesome.

Thanks for listening...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Corpus Christi at St. Charles Borromeo

Since arriving at the Church of St. Charles Borromeo in St. Anthony on June 3, I have had a wonderful beginning to my deacon summer under the supervision of Fr. LaFontaine.  I spent the first few days getting acquainted with the parish and learning the ropes from Dcn. Najarian, who keeps a fairly tight ship in the sacristy and parish office.  I've been blessed with the opportunity to visit the homebound, assist at a wedding, preside at a wake, and serve as a deacon at Mass every day since arriving at St. Charles.  However, this past Sunday stands out as a truly special moment, for I was able to both preach at Mass and be the deacon in the parish's Corpus Christi procession.

Accompanying the parish's parochial vicar, Fr. Meyer, I joined dozens of parishioners in processing around the parish grounds and offering praise and worship to the Lord in the Holy Eucharist.  Despite the sun's unrelenting heat and the usual hazards that come from marching around in an array of vestments, the Corpus Christi procession was a beautiful ceremony and a great reminder to me of how we should always march forward with Jesus Christ.  Eucharistic processions are a marvelous reminder of our need to stand in solidarity with our Lord as we go about His work.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

More Pictures from St. Louis

On Thursday a seminarian from the seminary was ordained to the transitional diaconate. Joseph Xui Hui Jiang is originally from China but after undergoing persecution was brought to America and put under the care of now Archbishop Carlson. Below are a few pictures of Deacon Joseph.

Do you promise respect and obedience to me and my successor?

Deacon Joseph Jiang was vested by Fr. Paul Sirba.

Deacon Joseph incenses the people.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

"The Pentecost" by Jean Restout II

Periodically I like to blog on works of religious art, statues, and Church architecture.

More posts to come...

by James Lannan, Theology III - Saint Paul Seminary


I recently saw a print of this painting. I absolutely love it. Each time I look at it I find something new that I like. Notice the reaction each apostle has as he receives the Holy Spirit. Then see how Mary is reacting, centered in glory.

This dramatic representation of the events on Pentecost is a copy of the original artwork "Pentecost" which is currently on display in the Louvre in Paris.

The original painting is 183" X 306 1/4" and is an oil on canvas. The artist, Jean Restout II, painted it in 1732.

I do not claim to be an authority on art at all. Yet, I know what I like and what I do not like. This painting is amazing!

James Lannan

Back in town

We got back from St. Louis last night at about 9:00 o'clock. A lot better weather to travel in. Below are some pictures from the various events.

The facade of the St. Louis Cathedral

Archbishop Carlson in the procession

The apse of the Cathedral. There are 42 million little pieces of mosaic in the Cathedral.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

In St. Louis

After the fishing tournament (didn't catch a thing by the way) on Monday, we drove to Sioux Falls only to get back in the car six hours later to drive to St. Louis for Archbishop Robert Carlson's installation. I forgot the little cord to get pictures off of my camera, so that will have to wait. We attended vespers last night at the local Cathedral, which is very beautiful. We have run into priests from all over the place. This morning we were able to have breakfast with the Archbishop-elect along with a group of people from the Sioux Falls diocese that came down on a bus. Tomorrow Joseph Jiang will be ordained a transitional deacon. Joseph comes to us from China and he has been at the seminary with us for two years. Have to go soon to get some lunch and pray daytime prayer before things get busy.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Gone fishing...again

Headed out again for another fishing tournament. Hope the fish are biting tomorrow.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Ordination Tour - Day 3

Well, I remain the final unordained deacon of the SPS Class of 2009. Last evening, I attended the ordination of Frs. Jorge Canela and Jonathan Sorensen, where just as the procession was beginning, I was assigned to serve as the chaplain to the bishop of Grand Island. It was a beautiful celebration. This morning, Fr. Omar Guanchez was ordained a priest as well. Though I was unable to get there, I was assured that it was also a beautiful celebration. Pray for priests.

What if...

I recently had dinner at one of the parish employees houses. I got to meet her husband, two kids, and a friend of hers. Long story short, I got a lot of questions from her friend and the usual topics came up: celibacy, why confess to a priest, contraception, etc. She apologized for being blunt with her questions, but I actually appreciate how forward she was because it helped me think back to my training to give her the best answer. My internet access is somewhat limited, so my posts may be sparse. My summer assignment is off to a great start and I am sure that it will continue on the right path.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Gone Fishing

I will soon be heading out to go to a fishing tournament, which supports seminarian education for my diocese. Pray for good weather and a good turnout. I will post some pictures later.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Ordination Tour - Day 2

Today, former blogger Deacon Gregory Parrott of the Diocese of Winona was ordained a priest of Jesus Christ by His Excellency John Quinn, Bishop of Winona. Likewise, deacons Allan Paul Eilen, Doug Ebert, and former blogger Michael Johnson were ordained to the order of presbyters by their own archbishop. I attended the ordination in Winona, which was beautiful. As with the last one, it nearly brought me to tears several times. I am sure the same is true of the ordination in the Twin Cities. Tomorrow, I attend Fr. Johnson's First Mass of Thanksgiving. Please pray for priests.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Big news for the Archdiocese

It was announced this morning that Fr. Lee Piche is now Bishop-elect Lee Piche. He will serve as an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

The following is from the Vatican Information Service:

Appointed Msgr. Lee Anthony Piche of the clergy of the archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, U.S.A., pastor of St. Andrew's church, vicar general and moderator of the Curia, as auxiliary of the same archdiocese (area 17,225, population 3,082,000, Catholics 852,000, priests 484, permanent deacons 217, religious 1,142). The bishop-elect was born in Minneapolis in 1958 and ordained a priest in 1984.

The Catholic Spirit has a small amount of information right now, but more will be coming in the next few days.

As for me in Sioux Falls, SD; we are getting ready for our own ordinations, it is amazing to think that next year I will be preparing for my diaconate ordination. I went over to my summer assignment last night to go to Mass and get a tour of the place, but won't move in for a another week or so because of other things going on.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Signing Off

With ordination just around the corner, my time at the Saint Paul Seminary is over and so I bid all of you farewell.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

I wrote this for last memorial day:

The 20th Century dawned with unimaginable hope. The wars of unification were over; Italy had coalesced under the forces of King Victor Emmanuel II, and Germany soon followed suit. The wars of independence, which rocked four continents, were over. At home, reconstruction was fading into distant memory, joining the war of 1812 and the American Revolution in the foggy pages of history. The Spanish-American War was a success. Enlightenment ideals of peace and prosperity joined the euphoria of liberal Protestantism. The City of God was going to be built during this century.

For Europe, the façade of optimism came crashing down as the roaring teens, the supposed age of peace and prosperity, gave way to the sober reality of World War I, yet Americans viewed it as the next great adventure. Songs like Over There with the words,

Johnnie get your gun, get your gun, get your gun; Take it on the run, on the run, on the run; Hear them calling you and me; Every son of liberty. Hurry right away, no delay, go today; Make your daddy glad, to have had such a lad; Tell your sweetheart not to pine, To be proud her boy's in line.

betray the naiveté which pervaded American culture at the time, yet 40 million dead people has a way of sobering up a nation.

Despite this "setback" (which they promised themselves would never happen again, as this war was the War to End All Wars), the roaring times took off again in the 20s, that is until another meeting with the reality of evil took place.

Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan...
Yesterday, the Japanese government also launched an attack against Malaya.
Last night, Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.
Last night, Japanese forces attacked Guam.
Last night, Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.
Last night, the Japanese attacked Wake Island.
And this morning, the Japanese attacked Midway Island...
No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.
I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.

-Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1941

Americans were again called to arms to defend our nation and world from tyranny and unimaginable atrocities. The annals of history record the devastation and horrors which left Europe in a dazed stupor for a decade or more to come. No euphoria gripped the populaces of America or Europe afterwards. Sadly, they were right to be wary as this war, though unimaginable in the devastation wrought, was not the last of the 20th Century. The blood of brave men and women would continue to be spilled: Vietnam, Korea, Iraq.

And so, today, we honor the brave men and women who gave their lives and are giving their lives for our country. Too many have made this sacrifice; too many more live with the trauma they witnessed. We come to their graves, adorned with flags, flags which they fought to keep flying freely, and stand in shock at the rows upon rows of white markers, knowing this scene is repeated across the country, even across the Atlantic to the fields of Europe. Muted silence, muffled sobs, and the wafting of Taps give ear to the sight. Our senses remind us of a bitter reality,

peace lost in the 20th Century.

Though war might be inevitable to fallen mankind, pray today, and every day, that this world will know the peace that only God can give. Let the greatest tribute we give to our soldiers this Memorial Day be peace. Pray that the atrocities of the 20th Century are not repeated in this one; may the optimism of the early 20th Century finally be realized in the next. Pray that the words of Paul VI are finally heeded, "No more war, war never again."

Negatively, first: the words which you expect from Us and which We cannot pronounce without full awareness of their gravity and solemnity: Never one against the other, never, never again. Was it not principally for this purpose that the United Nations came into being: against war and for peace? Listen to the clear words of a great man, the late John Kennedy, who declared four years ago: "Mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind." Long discourses are not necessary to proclaim the supreme goal of your institution. It is enough to remember that the blood of millions of men, numberless and unprecedented sufferings, useless slaughter and frightful ruin are the sanction of the covenant which unites you, in a solemn pledge which must change the future history of the world: No more war, war never again.

-Paul VI’s Address to the UN General Assembly 1965