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, January 19, 2009

Another E-mail Home

Just to reiterate a bit about the class and the nature of our trip here.

So why are we in Rome? Well, it’s because our J-Term is a class in Missiology—studying the Missionary Activity of the Church. In the past, SPS sent us down to the US-Mexico border to study the difficulties of living down there, of crossing the border (legally and the situations of those who have crossed illegally), the situations of border disputes, etc..., and what it is like to minister to all of the situations down there. Last year, however, SPS moved the class to Rome so that it could have a broader perspective, looking at more ways of ministering to the poor and outcast, but especially those who have yet to have the Gospel preached to them—the specifically Missionary work. Most of the groups who do this work have at least a group stationed in Rome, if not their worldwide headquarters. So, here we are.

As well, however, for Catholics Rome is truly home. It is the center of the Christian world, insofar as the earthly Shepherd of the whole Church is here. Moreover, Rome is in many ways a crucial birthplace for the Church in that many early Christians were martyred here, including Saints Peter and Paul. There is a saying that the ground is soaked with the blood of the Martyrs and is, therefore, truly holy land. An early Christian writer said that "the blood of the Martyrs is the seed of the Church"—wherever the Church is persecuted, the Church usually thrives at that place soon thereafter. Rome is where Christians throughout the centuries have always brought the great saints, built churches in memory of them, and buried them in those churches. So, one aspect of our trip is simply to live in Rome and learn from Rome itself.

We’ve also been visiting a number of the offices in the Vatican, various “Congregations”: for Bishops, for the Sacraments, for Church Law (the Roman Rota), for Doctrine. These have been very interesting—they have been able to explain a bit more of how things happen in the Church Universal—the long, long process of selecting a bishop; the process of reviewing, hopefully converting, but otherwise censuring a bad theologian’s works; the process of appealing marriage annulments or other church disputes to Rome; and most interestingly, the thoughts of the Vatican on the state of the Liturgy and how Mass is being carried out. Very informative, exciting, but mostly edifying, when all is said and done. This is because you realize that when decisions about bishops, discipline, censuring, or the Mass are made by the Vatican, there is a long process involved, with many people involved, with many perspectives being heard and shared, which safeguards charity and justice within the Church throughout the whole world.

Goodness it's great to be Catholic.