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, March 31, 2009


It is said that the Aztec Emperor Montezuma had a zoo filled with exotic creatures as well as people with deformities, physical oddities, or birth defects. He was not the first or the last emperor to have done so. The concept of the zoo was taken to new heights, however, with the "freak shows" of days now hopefully past, where traveling circuses would make money by asking people to pay to see amazing collections of odd people.

I think there is something in us, as humans, that makes us want to see other humans, especially the odd, the uncommon, and the bizarre. Perhaps it is our curiosity, wondering how others must live. Maybe we are simply cruel - we like to see the deformities and sufferings of others because it reassures us about our own goodness and value. Perhaps it is rooted much more deeply - animals, especially herd animals, recognize differences among members of the herd, and drive the odd ones out as a means of protection. One white cow in a herd of black cows draws a lot of attention from predators. Whatever it is, we like seeing "odd" people, and often, we fail to see them as persons deserving of the same respect we desire for ourselves.

There was a time when I used to joke that I wanted a people collection. I would have a Gypsy, and a firefighter, and a whole array of people that I could display and watch. It occurs to me now, well after the fact, that this was not particularly funny. It really did suggest that some people were less than people, and that I could simply use them for my amusement. That being said, I still do have an interest in who are other than me. I want to keep a part of them and their life for myself.

These reflections were all prompted a few days ago when I returned home to my family for Spring break, and distributed the gifts I had purchased for my parents. For my dad, a heavy "brass-ish" figurine of a Roman Gladiator. For my mother, a figurine (doll?) of a Swiss Guard. These were added to the mantle, where there already stood a paper mache campesino I had purchased in Mexico, a small collection of dolls made of corn husks given to my mother by a friend from Slovakia, and a figurine of St. Peter given to me by a friend from college. Near the fireplace are paintings; each has a different image of a cowboy. On other walls in the room are photos of family, some of whom were dead long before my own birth.

These, I realized, have become my people collection. It is not as though I possess the people, but I have access to the gritty truth of who they are. Through them, I find a point of departure to discover and rediscover the reality they represent - the life, the hardship, the struggle, the heroism, the goodness, and the wickedness or each. To possess these figures, to look at them - to look through them - is, I think, ultimately an expression of love. It says of the other, "You are meaningful. Who you are and what you do are are important enough to me that I want a way to always remember." And this, I think it is safe to say, is a far cry from the zoos of the likes of Montezuma.

Monday, March 30, 2009


No, I am not talking about junk e-mail that we inevitably get each day to win a "free" i-pod, but the mysterious meat made from ___________. While I was on retreat with the Carmelites in Austin, MN the inevitable happened, spam was on the menu. There is a Hormel factory located in Austin and you can see it from the interstate. Growing up I never had the 'opportunity' to eat this curious creation. Last Thursday I had my first spam sandwich and it was really not that bad. It did not have much taste and it did not bother me too terribly much. I am not saying I will go out and buy several cases of it for my own enjoyment, but I think I'll stick with something that I can identify as being an animal product.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Back to real life

After I come back from retreat there are always things to catch up on: phone calls, mail, homework, etc. Yesterday was no different. I had close to thirty e-mails, no phone calls, some mail, and homework that I was not able to complete before going on retreat. Prioritizing these things is difficult. I wanted to get caught up on some news, check my e-mails, call my parents and my brother, and pray. It took me a while to see what was happening back home, what was happening in St. Paul, the sports world, etc. I did not have much mail but homework is still where I left it. All in due time and hopefully according to God's will.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Crossing a bridge over the Tiber, I shouted to my brother to quickly get out his camera because I had seen . . . YES . . . INDEED IT WAS . . . TWO DUCKS! So, apparently the sign about the various animals living in the Tiber was accurate. O Roma, miserere me!


Last semester, I used this blog as a forum to describe by progress on my thesis. This semester, I have been unable to continue that habit, as yet, because I have been preparing for comprehensive exams. Dcn. Gregory and I both completed the written portion of these exams last week.

The comps are designed to give those pursuing the Master of Arts in Theology the opportunity to flex our theological muscles, so to speak. Three professors are selected to administer the exam. Each professor then submits two questions. During the three exam periods, which occur over the course of two days, the student must select a single question proposed by each of the examiners. The student is then given two hours to respond in writing to each question. The questions I was asked ranged from the history of the papacy during the patristic period of the Church to the various modes under which Catholics understand the Church according to the teachings of Vatican II. I used most of those two hours for each of the questions posed.

The exam was intense, but not exactly difficult. The questions required a certain depth for an adequate answer, but the exam is not designed to find out what I don't know. The examiners hope to allow one to demonstrate what I have learned in the last four years. That being said, it does not behoove one to enter the exam unprepared. I have spent most of the last six or seven weeks getting ready by reading books I hadn't finished yet, reviewing notes, and then reviewing them all again. It was most fortuitous that at the end of my exam, I entered into my spring break.

Anyway, this is all a long way around having to actually apologize for my laxity in posting here more often. I still have to finish the oral portion of my comps, but when they are completed, I should be able to focus more of my attention here again, where I will have stories to tell about late night emergency trips to the dentist, South Dakota blizzards, and who knows what else. But for now, a would appreciate just a few more prayers as I get ready for my oral exams at the beginning of next week.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Flora and Fauna of Roma

In the course of walking around Rome, we've spotted a number of interesting items that make a good story or raise an interesting question. For instance, but a few steps from where we are staying at UST's Bernardi Campus, the Ponte Matteotti sports this wonderful sign describing the various animals and plants that call the Tiber, Rome's famous river, home.

As promising as that appears, the Tiber, at least since I arrived, appears about as green as the Chicago River on St. Patrick's Day. In short, I think this placard is rather optimistic, but, I'm not Marine Biologist - I'm just an aspiring Theologian.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Not much going on at the seminary.

By the end of Friday, the seminary was pretty empty. A few of us are sticking around for varying reasons. I leave in a day and half for a retreat and I am looking forward to a new setting and some more time for prayer and meditation. One of the things I love the most about this time off is cooking for myself. Over the years of watching my mother cook and working at a restaurant for a while, I have ventured off onto my own. Friday night was gnocchi and shrimp with an Alfredo sauce. Yesterday was bacon and eggs. This morning/afternoon was a pot of chili and tonight was a pot of pasta with some olive oil and garlic for a sauce. I have some chicken and fettucini; I'll probably find a way to use those together.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

What do seminarians do for spring break?

Last year our spring break coincided with Holy Week and many of us came back, unrested and still burdened by papers and tests. Some of us are going on retreat (myself included), others are going to spend time at home, two of the men will be going abroad (one to Rome to visit his brother who is in the Catholic Studies program, the other will be visiting his brother in Luxembourg), and others will spend some time traveling and seeing old friends. I am sure that many of the third and fourth year men will take some of the time to prepare invitations and the like for their respective ordinations.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Our Lady of Guadeloupe

I really like this wooden statue of Our Lady of Guadeloupe. I do not always like some of the artistic portrayals of this traditional image. I like this one for the following reasons:

1. Individually hand carved rays

2. She is beautifully painted and carved, in particular, her face.

3. the gloss over the paint is not "over the top"


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Calvin and Hobbes

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Holy Father announces a special year for priests.


VATICAN CITY, 16 MAR 2009 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican the Holy Father received members of the Congregation for the Clergy, who are currently celebrating their plenary assembly on the theme: "The missionary identity of priests in the Church as an intrinsic dimension of the exercise of the 'tre munera'".

"The missionary dimension of a priest arises from his sacramental configuration to Christ the Head", said the Pope. This involves "total adherence to what ecclesial tradition has identified as 'apostolica vivendi forma', which consists in participation ... in that 'new way of life' which was inaugurated by the Lord Jesus and which the Apostles made their own".

Benedict XVI highlighted the "indispensable struggle for moral perfection which must dwell in every truly priestly heart. In order to favour this tendency of priests towards spiritual perfection, upon which the effectiveness of their ministry principally depends, I have", he said, "decided to call a special 'Year for Priests' which will run from 19 June 2009 to 19 June 2010". This year marks "the 150th anniversary of the death of the saintly 'Cure of Ars', Jean Marie Vianney, a true example of a pastor at the service of Christ's flock".

"The ecclesial, communional, hierarchical and doctrinal dimension is absolutely indispensable for any authentic mission, and this alone guarantees its spiritual effectiveness", he said.

"The mission is 'ecclesial'", said the Pope, "because no-one announces or brings themselves, ... but brings Another, God Himself, to the world. God is the only wealth that, definitively, mankind wishes to find in a priest.

"The mission is 'communional' because it takes place in a unity and communion which only at a secondary level possess important aspects of social visibility. ... The 'hierarchical' and 'doctrinal' dimensions emphasise the importance of ecclesiastical discipline (a term related to that of 'disciple') and of doctrinal (not just theological, initial and permanent) formation".

Benedict XVI stressed the need to "have care for the formation of candidates to the priesthood", a formation that must maintain "communion with unbroken ecclesial Tradition, without pausing or being tempted by discontinuity. In this context, it is important to encourage priests, especially the young generations, to a correct reading of the texts of Vatican Council II, interpreted in the light of all the Church's doctrinal inheritance".

Priests must be "present, identifiable and recognisable - for their judgement of faith, personal virtues and attire - in the fields of culture and of charity which have always been at the heart of the Church's mission".

"The centrality of Christ leads to a correct valuation of priestly ministry, without which there would be no Eucharist, no mission, not even the Church. It is necessary then, to ensure that 'new structures' or pastoral organisations are not planned for a time in which it will be possible to 'do without' ordained ministry, on the basis of an erroneous interpretation of the promotion of the laity, because this would lay the foundations for a further dilution in priestly ministry, and any supposed 'solutions' would, in fact, dramatically coincide with the real causes of the problems currently affecting the ministry".

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Lord's Prayer, part 3 of 3

This post includes that last part of my paper on the Lord's Prayer. The first two parts can be found here and here.

The last three petitions of the Lord’s Prayer are intertwined and much like the petition for the kingdom and the will of God, the last three petitions rely on one another for their meaning. The first petition is “And forgive us our debts.” [22] St. Luke’s version substitutes the word sins for debts. This is a precursor to what is written later in St. Matthew’s in the parable of the unforgiving servant:

“Then his Lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his Lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” [23]

This passage from the eighteenth chapter of St. Matthew’s gospel exhibits the necessity of asking for forgiveness from God and from our fellow man. The second petition is as follows: “As we also have forgiven our debtors.” [24] St. Luke’s version is quite different but has the same connotation: “For we ourselves forgive every one who is indebted to us.” [25] This shows us that we must imitate the Father’s forgiveness and be willing to humble ourselves to ask for forgiveness. “Both Mt 6:12, 14-15 and Lk 11:4 insist on the close relationship between divine forgiveness and our willingness to forgive one another.” [26] Luke Timothy Johnson states: “Luke retains ‘debtors’ in the second clause, but uses ‘sins’ for human offenses against God.” [27] I think that Johnson is pointing to the fact that debts are more related to sins against man, whereas offenses committed against God are called sins. I have difficulty with this interpretation because of the parable of the prodigal son in Lk 15, when the son states that in sinning against his father, he has also sinned against the heavenly Father. The final petition that is common to both St. Matthew and St. Luke is exactly the same: “And lead us not into temptation.” [28] This petition is possibly in reference to the coming persecutions that are to be experienced. I previously noted that St. Matthew’s gospel was written between 70-100 AD and so the early Church was going through persecution in many different areas and this could be a sign of hope or endurance. The New Jerome Biblical Commentary says this: “This [temptation] probably means ‘do not let us fall when we are tempted’.” [29] St. Matthew concludes his account of the Lord’s Prayer with “But deliver us from evil.” [30] This verse is in an odd place and makes the reader wonder why the extra petition of being delivered from evil is necessary because it seems that it was addressed in the previous petition. Again I think there is a distinction being made in who the evil is coming from. I think the author is making the point that temptation may be coming from man, but evil is coming from the devil himself.

There are many significant differences in the three accounts of the Lord’s Prayer but they do not detract any meaning in their respective contexts. In St. Matthew’s gospel the Lord’s Prayer is placed after the Sermon on the Mount, which places a great amount of emphasis on what is necessary. St. Mark places his account near the end of his gospel and it has a large effect on what the apostles learn from Jesus and what they need to preach when he is gone. St. Luke places his account immediately before the story of the Good Samaritan and it helps us learn that the element of forgiveness is paramount in Christianity. Another element of the Lord’s Prayer that does not receive as much attention in preaching today is the fact that we are being encouraged by our Lord to rely on the bread that he gave us at the Last Supper. Much like the Israelites picking up the daily manna, we too, must rely on God to provide for our spiritual needs. The importance that the Lord’s Prayer has in the liturgical life of the Church and her pious devotions exhibits the necessity to petition the Father for the things that he wants to bestow upon us, when we ask him in faith and this is what makes the Lord’s prayer the exemplary prayer of Christianity.


22 Synopsis of the Four Gospels. New York: American Bible Society, 1982. pp. 57

23 Synopsis of the Four Gospels. New York: American Bible Society, 1982. pp. 163

24 Synopsis of the Four Gospels. New York: American Bible Society, 1982. pp. 57

25 ibid

26 Donahue SJ, John R. The Gospel of Mark. Sacra Pagina Series. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2002. pp. 330

27 Johnson, Luke Timothy. The Gospel of Luke. Sacra Pagina Series. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1991. pp. 178

28 Synopsis of the Four Gospels. New York: American Bible Society, 1982. pp. 57

29 Viviano OP, Benedict T. “The Gospel according to Matthew.” New Jerome Biblical Commentary. New Jersey: Harper Collins,1990. pp. 645

30 Synopsis of the Four Gospels. New York: American Bible Society, 1982. pp. 57

Sunday, March 15, 2009

March before break,

It is a busy time around here at the seminary, midterms and papers are due. It can be a bit absurd with many things going on. What it takes to maintain peace in many types of situations is a trust in divine will. The divine will is what many call 'divine providence', and this trust in providence has to come from a very personal relationship with our Lord Jesus. These few weeks I have been learning a bit about how much my own life is in Gods hands. How much my faults, shortcomings, and those of others are a cause for my own lack of peace. It is a constant fight with evil to maintain ones peace and Jesus's very desire is to give us peace. He wants us to undestand oursleves our dignity and through Him we can and must find peace. Anyway, with Christ and seeing our final end, we can see everything truly and with that we have peace. This is all very fine and good you say? I highly reckomend a book to you which may explain this very search much better than I. http://http://www.amazon.com/Searching-Maintaining-Peace-Small-Treatise/dp/0818909064

Thanks and God Bless,

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Whan that Aprill with his shoures sote . . .

We are not yet to April, nor has March been much of a drought. However, I am planning a "pylgrimage" for our mid-term break which will be upon us in one week. My younger brother, an undergraduate here at St. Thomas, has been in Rome since February as part of a study-abroad program organized by the Catholic Studies Department. I'll be visiting him, but I also plan to stop by the Chiesa Nuova in order to thank St. Phillip Neri for his intercession on my behalf. In case you should happen to run into him among the Communion of Saints, here's his mug:

Pilgrimage has the unique ability to wrap up the whole person with delightful ease. For a spiritual purpose, one moves the whole body and soul, the whole human person, from one spot to another. There are no extended, intensely focused meditations, no careful attention to abstract concepts, hardly any rubrics. One simply goes.
For the Year of St. Paul, the Holy Father has permitted diocesan bishops to designate particular locations within their dioceses as pilgrimage sites, destinations at which one may, under the usual conditions, attain a plenary indulgence. So, dear reader, if you are aware of any of these extraordinary locations in your diocese or, even, any places that are ordinarily the destination of pilgrimages and you (like me) are looking for a refreshing, simple, concrete way to show some effort in the spiritual life, go.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

St. Joseph Novena

March 19th is the day which Holy Mother Church has dedicated to the Solemnity of St. Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Carmelite monastery in my diocese sends a Novena prayer to many people before major Carmelite feasts and since their patron is St. Joseph, they sent one to me a few weeks ago. The prayer is as follows.

With childlike confidence I present myself before you, O holy Joseph, faithful foster-father of Jesus! I beg your compassionate intercession and support in this, my present necessity. I firmly believe that you are most powerful near the throne of God, who chose you for the reputed father of His well-beloved Son, Christ Jesus. O blessed Saint, you who saved that Treasure of Heaven, along with his virginal Mother, from the rage of his enemies, did with untiring industry supply His earthly wants and with paternal care accompany and protect Him all the journeys of His Childhood, take me, also for the love of Jesus, as your child. Assist me in my present difficulty with your prayers before God. The infinite goodness of our Savior who honored and loved you as His father upon earth, cannot refuse you any request now in heaven.

Ah, how many pious souls have sought help from you in their needs, and have experienced to the their joy, how good, how mild, how ready to assist you are! How quickly you turn to those who call upon you with confidence! How powerful you are in bringing help and restoring joy to anxious and dejected hearts! There do I fly to you, o most chaste spouse of Mary! Good St. Joseph, I pray you by the burning love you had for Jesus and Mary upon earth, console me in my distress, and present my petition, through Jesus and Mary, before the throne of God! One word from you will move my good Savior to bless me and to console my afflicted soul. Then, most joyfully shall I praise Him and you, most earnest will be my thanksgivings! Amen.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Farewell to the Flesh

I, like many people, attended a Mardi Gras party the Tuesday evening before Ash Wednesday. This sort of event has a long tradition, and in many cultures, bears the name Carnival. This appellation comes from two Latin words - carne vale - farewell to the flesh. As this title indicates, the Lenten season is traditionally associated with those practices designed to assist in freeing us from our passions, or our inordinate desires which drive us to place worldly things and pleasures before our desire for union with God. Thus, we use the season of Lent to strip ourselves of these pleasures, to remind ourselves of out utter dependence on God, and to turn away from ourselves, pouring out our lives for the good of others just as our Savior did on the cross for us. Thus, it is not uncommon for many Catholic parishes to encourage people to participate in events such as Operation Rice Bowl that benefit the less fortunate during the season of Lent.

In the seminary, introspection and radical honesty about one's own life are the hallmarks of the season, because along with all of the typical penitential practices, for seminarians, Lent means evaluations.

Seminary evaluations are a necessary element of priestly formation. They are a tool whereby the student and his formators measure his growth over the course of the year, and they are an important element for the seminarian and the Church as both mutually discern whether or not one is called to live the life of a priest. They are not designed to be painful, but no one really likes to admit one's weaknesses, and to do so is a fundamental piece of the evaluation process. Likewise, even though the evaluation also asks seminarians to consider their strengths, many find it much easier to name their faults, and it can often seem that the list of weaknesses is much longer than the list of strengths.

In a way, then, it is most appropriate that evaluations would fall in the midst of Lent. Lent reminds us that we are entirely dependent upon the grace of God for everything in our lives. That which we do well, and that of which we are proud are only ours by the limitless generosity of God. The only thing we can claim as our own is our sinfulness. The sinfulness itself can only be overcome through grace. I am not as wonderful as I want everyone to believe I am. And yet, somehow in the midst of what can otherwise become a violent cycle of self-loathing, I discover that God loves me deeply and that he desires to share his life with me more deeply. Evaluations and Lent should, then, in a way, be a time of great hope and joy. By the wounds of Christ we have been healed, and through the cross we have the audacity to hope that God will use us for good and that we can and must confront even the darkest corners of our lives, shedding light on them through the prism of the cross. It is only in the recognition of our own helplessness and incompetence, however, that we ever really begin to see how truly glorious is that Easter Sunday when we are able to proclaim Christ is alive, and he has conquered sin and death.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

The Lord's Prayer, part 2 of 3

This post is a continuation from my initial post found here. This section of the paper discusses the many petitions and one of the words that is sometimes difficult to translate.

The second and third petitions are inseparable because they speak about things that cannot be distinguished: kingdom of God and the will of God. St. Luke contains combines the two petitions into one: “Thy kingdom come.”[11] St. Matthew includes the petition: “Thy will be done.”[12] One must presume that God’s will is that the kingdom will come through the incarnate son: Jesus Christ. In many commentaries and spiritual classics, the use of the word kingdom refers not to the kingdom here and now on earth, but rather the eschatological kingdom that is to come at the parousia. St. Cyprian writes: “Hence he who dedicates himself to God and to Christ, longs not for the kingdom of earth, but for the kingdom of Heaven.”[13] Later on in St. Matthew’s gospel, Jesus states, “Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”[14] This helps the reader get a broad view of what the kingdom is and this is why St. Matthew places the will of the Father and the kingdom to come together. One thing that St. Matthew does not address at this particular moment is how one does the will of the Father, but later on the gospel he alludes to how God’s will is obeyed. St. Cyprian gives a unique insight into how to follow God’s will, “We ask not that God may do His own will, but that we may be enabled to do what He wills should be done by us.”[15] I think that St. Cyprian is getting at the fact that we must discern and do God’s will and this will bring about the kingdom of God on earth.

The next phrase in the Lord’s Prayer near the middle of both St. Matthew and St. Luke’s accounts and this gives a great amount of emphasis. There is little to compare in the English translation because St. Matthew reads: “Give us this day our daily bread.” [16] St. Luke’s account reads: “Give us each day our daily bread.” [17] I previously mentioned that there are some questions about how St. Jerome translated this passage into Latin and how the Latin was translated into English. The question of translation occurs with the two words ‘daily bread.’ The Greek text of St. Matthew’s gospel uses the words τὸν ἐπιούσιον. The prefix ἐπι has many uses depending on the case that it is being used in and in this case it is used in the accusative case, which means that the word ἐπιούσιον is being used as the direct object of the sentence. The word ούσιον is derived from ουσία and means nature, substance or essence. The literal meaning of the word ἐπιούσιον is ‘the substance for the day’ and there are three different ways that this phrase can be taken. The first is that the substance is “Necessary or needful for existence.”[18] The second has the meaning of “For the current day.” [19] The third has the connotation of being “For the coming or following day.”[20] This meaning also points to the warning that Jesus gives about the future persecutions that the Church will encounter. Allison and Davies note the fact that the Fathers would have used either the first or third meanings whereas most modern scholars are more approving of the third meaning. The way that St. Jerome translated St. Matthew’s account of τὸν ἐπιούσιον is what many scholars have spent much time and energy on. St. Jerome uses the Latin word supersubstantialem, which has a different connotation than τὸν ἐπιούσιον. The word ‘supersubstantialem’ translates as super abundant bread and since each of the gospels are written after the death and resurrection of Jesus, it would seem that the author of the gospel is referring to the Eucharist. The vulgate text of St. Matthew contains the word supersubstantialem, whereas St. Luke’s gospel contains the word cotidianum. The word cotidianum is very similar to the connotation of τὸν ἐπιούσιον and simply means occurring every day or being used as in a daily custom. In both St. Matthew and St. Luke’s account there is a double emphasis on the word day and this points to something unique about the daily bread that the early Church was pleading for from the Father. St. Augustine comments on this part of St. Matthew: “Here then the saints ask for perseverance of God, when they pray that they may not be separated from the body of Christ, but may abide in that holiness, committing no crime.”[21] The double emphasis on the word day not only shows how important the daily bread is but it also shows that frequent reception of the Eucharist and the other sacraments is beneficial to our spiritual life.


11 Synopsis of the Four Gospels. New York: American Bible Society, 1982. pp.57

12 ibid

13 Aquinas, Thomas. Catena Aurea-Gospel of St. Matthew. Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, 2000. pp. 180

14 Synopsis of the Four Gospels. New York: American Bible Society, 1982. pp. 63

15 Aquinas, Thomas. Catena Aurea-Gospel of St. Matthew. Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, 2000. pp. 181

16 Synopsis of the Four Gospels. New York: American Bible Society, 1982. pp. 57

17 ibid

18 Allison, Dale C. and Davies, W.D. The Gospel According to Saint Matthew. International Critical Commentary. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark Ltd. 1988. pp. 607

19 ibid

20 Allison, Dale C. and Davies, W.D. The Gospel According to Saint Matthew. International Critical Commentary. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark Ltd. 1988. pp. 608

21 Aquinas, Thomas. Catena Aurea-Gospel of St. Matthew. Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, 2000. pp. 182

Thursday, March 05, 2009

The Lord's Prayer Part 1 of 3

The Our Father is the most recognized prayer in all of the Christian denominations. It is recognized by most as the Lord’s Prayer. The inspiration to write on this passage that occurs in the synoptic gospels came during the first week of lent, while praying the office of readings. I had not gone back to the text from the office of readings until my research was done and coincidentally many of the insights that I found to be helpful are attributed to the same author: St. Cyprian. I also chose this particular passage because it is a fixture both in the Mass, but also, in the rosary and the liturgy of the hours and wanted to learn more about a prayer that is said so often throughout the day. One of the major emphases that I will concentrate on in my comparison and exegesis is the petitions found in the accounts of St. Matthew and St. Luke.

Each of the synoptic writers has an account of the Our Father, each occurring in a unique place within each of the gospels. In St. Matthew’s gospel, the Our Father comes in chapter six, verses seven through fifteen. The Lord’s Prayer takes place in St. Mark’s gospel in chapter eleven, verses 25 and 26. In St. Luke’s gospel the Our Father comes in chapter eleven, verses one through four. The two texts that are the most similar are those of St. Matthew and St. Luke. St. Mark’s version does not contain any petitions compared to St. Luke’s five and St. Matthew’s seven. There are two problems that arise because of this passage. One of them is the inconsistency of how many petitions each passage has and the other is a question of how the phrase: “Give us this day our daily bread” is to be translated. This raises the question of what we must pray for because if St. Mark’s does not contain any petitions we must ask what the purpose of the Lord’s Prayer really is. “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against any one; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your trespasses.”[1] St. Luke’s account is as follows: “Father, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread; and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive every one who is indebted to us; and lead us not into temptation.”[2] St. Matthew’s account is the longest of the three and contains the most petitions: “Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; And forgive us our debts, As we also have forgiven our debtors; And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil.”[3] In each of the three accounts two things are mentioned: the Father and forgiveness. These two aspects seem to make up what constitutes the Lord’s Prayer. The International Critical Commentary suggests that the Lord’s Prayer as found in the synoptic writers, could be found in St. John’s gospel in the high priestly prayer found in chapter seventeen.[4] The additions that both St. Matthew and St. Luke make fill in what St. Mark initially wrote and this points to the possibility that St. Mark wrote first and then was added to.
St. Luke adds to St. Mark’s account by adding the five petitions and St. Matthew builds off of St. Luke by adding two more petitions. St. Luke is more concise in this part of his gospel because what St. Matthew says in seven petitions, St. Luke does in five petitions and without losing much of the meaning found in St. Matthew’s gospel. The first phrase in St. Matthew’s account begins with the words: “Our Father.”[5] Both St. Cyprian and Pseudo-Chrysostom comment on the significance of the word ‘Our’ as found in St. Matthew compared to St. Luke’s account which only as the word: ‘Father.’[6] The word ‘Our’ is found in the Greek text of St. Matthew’s account and Cyprian states: “Our prayer is general and for all, and when we pray, we pray not for one person, but for us all, because we all are one.”[7] By the very fact that Jesus uses the word ‘Our’ allows man to pray to God in a different way that is more personal and acknowledges who the Father is and that he is not far from us. The name ‘Father’ is derived from the Aramaic word ‘abba’ “Suggests familial intimacy.”[8] Pseudo-Chrysostom comments on the phrase ‘who art in heaven’: “We know that we have a heavenly Father.”[9] This adds to the significance of the opening lines of the Lord’s Prayer because the word ‘heaven’ reminds mankind that God is good and he desires to freely give that goodness away. The phrase: “Hallowed be thy name” is interpreted by St. John Chrysostom as being a petition which asks that, “When a man gazes upon the beauty of the heavens, he says, Glory be thee, O God; so likewise when he beholds a man’s virtuous actions, seeing that the virtue of man glorifies God much more than the heavens.”[10] In other words, we ought to pray that man might act virtuously so that his virtue might reflect well upon God, who freely created us. This first petition is found in both St. Matthew and St. Luke’s account and it is an introduction to the following petitions.

1 Synopsis of the Four Gospels. New York: American Bible Society, 1982. pp. 57
2 ibid
3 ibid
4 Allison, Dale C. and Davies, W.D. The Gospel According to Saint Matthew. International Critical Commentary. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark Ltd. 1988. pp. 598.
5 Synopsis of the Four Gospels. New York: American Bible Society, 1982. pp. 57
6 ibib
7 Aquinas, Thomas. Catena Aurea-Gospel of St. Matthew. Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, 2000. pp. 178
8 Achtemeier, Paul J. Harper’s Bible Dictionary. San Francisco. Harper Collins. 1985. pp. 3
9 ibid
10 Aquinas, Thomas. The Gospel of St. Luke. Catena Aurea. London: Saint Austin Press, 1997. pp. 387

I love my nieces and nephew very much!

this is Maddie. She is cool, despite the fact that she "does not do very much" - she just kind of sits there and stares at you. Some might say she is lazy because she sleeps a lot. But, I guess that is par for the course when you are 2 months old.

this is Ella. Ella is awesome. She likes to wear her Mom's clothes, shoes, and jewelry. In this photo she is wearing her Mom's winter hat. Her eating habits are kind of weird for a two-and a half-year old, as she likes green beans. She can't get enough of them. I guess that is a good thing. Ella is Maddie's big sister. Notice the green crocks on her feet. She loves those crocks, wearing them everywhere.

this is Peggy. Peggy is great. Peggy is almost 4 years old now and is a talker. She can talk your ear off. She has a great personality and is very smart.

this is Bobby. Bobby is the man! he is movin' into year 2 soon. Now Bobby is getting to be much more interesting, even though he appears a bit "out of it" in this photo. For a while he was like Maddie is now, not talking, just layin' there. But, Bobby is starting to walk and his jibberish is much clearer, including some Mama's and Dadda's in there. This photo is from the same trip tubing at the park with his sister Peggy.

I love them all very much !

Jim Lannan

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

At last Lent,

It may seem strange to many catholics, but I like lent. It is the preparation for Easter that makes it all worth while. I mean the way our Church is set up in prayer and fasting and penance, it all makes sense. Think about it like this, everybody likes to win. In games, atheletics, sports, and any competition its always best when you win. Lent is like that perfect game where everybody wins. You can work as hard and do as many penances as you like and it all brings about perseverence. You can persevere and win, simply because Christ is risen! Indeed there is passion and cross, but we are always looking to the new life. Discipline and hard work are something that our modern society have by and by cast off. Lets take it back and be real men and women who know the life of suffering, yet know all the more the life that comes after.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Has it really been a year?

This morning I was praying the Office of Readings and remembered that one year ago I picked a paper topic for my class on the synoptic gospels. The non-Biblical reading for this morning was from a treatise on the Lord's Prayer by St. Cyprian (bishop and martyr) and this gave me the inspiration to write my paper on the Lord's Prayer. I also decided that I will post a portion of the paper every few days to share what I learned.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Lenten Fasting

Ash Wednesday has come and gone, and I expect that by now, some of us are already beginning to wish that we had been more realistic (or at least less enthusiastic) about "giving something up for Lent."

For me, this year, the Lenten fast involves, but is not limited to, having decided to elminate internet service in my dorm room. I expect that this will have the effect of refocusing mu attention on my homework and on my prayer because it will also demand a different sense of balance in my life. The sacrifice is not huge. I am allowing myself access to the internet basically anywhere but in my room. Nevertheless, it does take a certain toll. I have to walk from my room on the third floor to the lab on the first floor to print papers, check email, and the like. Nevertheless, there has been an unexpected perk: there are a lot of guys that use the computer lab that I don't see very often otherwise. Who would have guessed that Lent would foster deeper fraternity in my life.

The downside of this, however, is that I still manage to squander a great deal of time.

Happy Lent!