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!

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.