Saturday, January 29, 2011

A taste of California

                There have been so many blessings that have come my way in the last few weeks. I am ever grateful for each one. I will begin this journal session talking about last weekend’s trip to San Francisco for the Walk For Life. The fellowship amongst the 45 of us on the bus ride to and from was great. We watched some great movies, prayed together and also got to know each other a lot more. I mean 22 hours on a bus will bring anyone together! Once we got Saint Patrick’s Seminary, where they were gracious enough to open their doors for us, we hung out as a big family of about 80 seminarians strong. The walk itself was on Saturday and there were over 50,000 people. There was such an amazing presence of faith amongst the thousands! I would say that the primary religion was Catholic but there were other denominations of Christianity, and maybe even non religious. There were many moments where I felt like crying because of the immense display of faith and also when I saw things that hurt. How can pro choice be so hurtful? The ones protesting against us were very hurt and I can only hope to understand their pain and feelings. Most were wronged by someone and I know its hard to move on and let go of the past. It made my faith stronger and I realized that God was truly present in that moment with all of us, whether we liked it or not.
                The other blessing was the visit from my Vocation Director. He is such an amazing priest and his presence among us made us feel like we were in California again. He was here for official business but in my eyes, he was just visiting. He was here to conduct formal evaluations on the guys from the Diocese of Orange who are third-year College and above and since I’m not there yet, I didn’t have any of that additional pressure! Even though I did not have a formal meeting with him, we did sit down and discuss how things were going for me and also my future here at this Seminary and where I might end up for Theology. I can only say that I am very happy with whatever the outcome may be and I will continue to strive for academic success. Academics are very important but it’s not all that we do. so that being said, I know have to try my best in all 4 pillars of formation. If you do not know them they are Academic, Human, Spiritual and Pastoral formation. My Vocation Director gave me some additional responsibilities within our Diocesan community here at Mount Angel. He appointed me as the social chair. Meaning I’m responsible for the get-togethers amongst us and to ensure that we meet up at least 2 times every 3 months for dinner and a movie or any type of outing. It’s not must but it’s enough to keep me busy

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Second semester: First week of classes

                This week was the first week of classes and I am taking fewer classes but more units this semester. Last semester I took 15 units within 8 classes. Two of which did not count for any academic credit and this semester I am taking 16 units within 6 classes. This semester I am taking Latin II. The class went from 16 to about 7 because it was so tough. And I’m sure conflicts might have something to do with it.  Intro to the Bible. This class seems really cool because we’ll be covering the whole Bible within a semester. Obviously we’ll be moving along pretty rapidly. Ethnographic Writing is just research class. We’re learning how to gather information, create surveys (both written and spoken) and some other things. Physics and Philosophy. This class is pretty intimidating because I have never taken Physics, however the class should be interesting because we’re looking at Physics through the eyes of a philosopher, and we’re looking at Philosophy through the eyes of a physicist. Reading Literature. The books that we will be covering seem interesting as well. I am not a natural reader so the only thing keeping me excited for this class is to get over with it. just kidding. I’m interested in reading fictional material because it might give my brain a “time-out” from Philosophy. And the last class on my schedule is Thomistic System. This class so far has covered the stuff that I ended my Logic class from New York. So far it’s all review. We will be studying St. Thomas and his Summa Theologica. I can’t wait to get into this class because I love St. Thomas and all the amazing work he did in the 13th century.
                Aside from classes, it feels really good being home. Yes the seminary is a home away from home and I am really comfortable here. I had a really good Spiritual Direction meeting this last Thursday. It helped me get rid of that guilt that I had built up when I was at home for Winter Break. I am going to read Matthew 9:9-13 and ask “How Lord, did you do it! How did you not fall into the trap of the Pharisees?” Love the sinner, not the sin. Something I learned somewhere along this journey.  

Saturday, January 8, 2011

5-day Silent Retreat

1/7/2011 19
                Wow! All I can say is WOW! (Well I can, and will say more haha) The silent retreat went above and beyond what I expected. I expected to come and just be quiet for a week. Not talk to anyone and just go through the motions. This was my first 5-day long silent retreat. The only other days of silence I’ve experienced was on All Souls Day and a couple of evenings of silence. We were asked to be silent for about 8 hours. This 5-day silent retreat was great because of many reasons but the ones I will explain are the ones that really impacted me.
                I must start off by saying that I witnessed a group of religious sisters this summer in NYC go through a silent retreat and they were amazingly quiet. They set my standards really high because of their silence. Having witnessed that I really tried to just let the Spirit move within me and guide me.
                The retreat master, Fr. Jeremy is a wicked-smart man. He gave 9 conferences in this 5-day span and every single session was amazing! All he did was give reflections upon passages in the Bible. BUT the depth of which he went into was motivating, inspirational, brilliant, humbling and heart-felt. He is a Theologian who teaches here for the first semester and in Rome the second.  He will be receiving a very prestigious award in 3 weeks recognizing his passion, devotion and ability to teach Theology.
                The book that I read (Light of the World by Pope Benedict XVI) was very good. I read about 35 pages every day and I ended up finishing the book on Friday. The book was a bunch of questions that were answered by the Pope. He touched on many subjects regarding the Church, himself and his predecessor Blessed John Paul II. I really enjoyed the book because 1: I noticed how much I know regarding the Church and was able to keep up with the book without many “what is he talking about” gestures. And the things that I had no idea were going on were great to hear about because they show promise and even though things might look bad for the Church, according the Pope things are getting a lot better.
                I was also to do some work during this silent retreat. I helped the Filipino Community out by making their Santo Nino booklet for the upcoming Feast Day. I was also able to make 21 Crucifixes out of clothespins. I made 5 a day and at the end of the week I snuck them into each of my Subiaco brother’s mailboxes. The Benedictines’ have a saying that work is prayer so I figured I could help by doing these things and offering them up as a prayer.
                All in all, this was an amazing experience that helped me grow spiritually. Thank you God (and the seminary) for this wonderful retreat!

Oregon - Home sweet home!

1/2/2011 - Sorry i couldnt post this sooner, i came back to a 5 day silent retreat (next post)
                Just got back to the seminary and what a great two weeks off it was! I was fortunate to spend time with most of my friends, all of my family and my parish community. I took some books and a Latin textbook home and I (once again) did not touch it! Haha. I am learning that life is tougher outside of the seminary because there is less structure. Here, I’m guided through my day, and home there is no structure and it becomes a Free-for-all type of atmosphere. While at home I hung out with people on some sort of schedule because I tried to make time for everyone, and at the same time, I had a lot of on-the-fly moments where things just happened. I can imagine Diocesan life as a Priest being somewhat the same. I did make time for prayer and mass because after all, that is what I am (at least) supposed to be doing.
                As good as it was being home, I yearned for seminary life. I needed it! Being home can attract bad habits and it is tough saying no to certain things. Up here, we’re all striving to be holy and the attitude is different. In the "real world” things are different. I am not running from these difficulties because after all, being a Priest, one is a Sheppard everyone. Especially the lost sheep.  So in one sense it keeps me up to date with what’s going on in the world, but in the other, I realized how fragile I still am and that I can still be pulled towards sin. But I DID notice it this and that is a step in the right direction for me because I analyzed what’s going on within me. And just for clarification, I didn’t do anything radical or extreme, but now, I am beginning to notice even the littlest sins (subjectively) and magnifying them in a way to what they truly are. Hurtful.
                Nevertheless, it was a great two weeks off and I am excited to come back to this 5 day long silent retreat. Pray for me because I don’t think I’ve been this silent since… ? Ever.