Catholic Thoughts



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Moving On (A Final Post)
Saturday, May 15, 2005, 11:51 PM

Today I graduated from the pre-theology program at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio with a Bachelors in Philosophy degree. Tomorrow, I begin the long return trip home to my diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin. There I will serve another summer as a Boy Scout Camp chaplain. I will be returning to the PCJ in the fall and then begin the four year theology program on my way to (God willing) being ordained a priest.

With apologies to everyone who has followed this site over the past two years, I am drawing this blog to a end. A recent homily on how other men dedicate themselves to become Navy Seals forced me to reflect upon my own preparation for the priesthood. In short, I concluded that the considerable time that faithful blogging requires is not the best way to dedicate myself to priestly formation. It is a sacrifice, but it is for the best.

Thanks for reading my random thoughts. Thanks you for your prayers and please send more. May God bless you and Mary keep you.

Sincerely,
Victor Feltes




My Soul Proclaims the Greatness of the Lord
Monday, April 18, 2005, 11:09 PM

I continue to be terribly busy here at seminary. I have just finished writing a big scholarship application, but I still have two big papers to do in these final weeks. Your prayers are welcome.

Last Saturday night I lead a prayer meditation for a Catholic youth retreat held here. Some 450 kids were there. I was nervous and studdering before and studdering again after, but when it was time my words were by all reports "excellent". Looking back, I don't know how the whole thing could have gone any better. The Lord looked with favor on his lowly servant. He did great things for me. Holy is his name.



Why so Quiet?
Tuesday, April 6, 2005, 4:27 PM

Sorry, but I'm busy here at seminary. It's spring and due dates are popping their heads. Recent events have also drawn my attention as well. My blogging will be much decreased in the weeks to come.

For instance I have been working on papers, like one on A.J. Ayer's view that speaking about the transcendant is meaningless talk because we cannot experience it. At first his logic seems insurmountable: For humans can only know that which they can somehow experience. Furthermore, the fact that the transcendent is outside the limits of possible human experience is the very definition of transcendence. Put these together and it establishes that humans can never know the transcendent. However, there is a vital point which Ayer either overlooks or brushes aside... (read my answer)



The Champion has Crossed the Finish Line and We Cheer
Tuesday, April 6, 2005, 4:27 PM

He competed well; he kept the faith; he has finished the race. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits him.

I generally shy away from repeating posts, but here is one from last year that's I think is fitting for the occasion:

My Hero
Thursday, October 16, 2003

When I was quite young, I really did not get what the Pope was all about. His outfit struck me as odd, all white, with that little beanie cap. At some point I learned he was from Poland, which I knew was in Europe, but I could not point to it on a map. I found it somewhat amusing that he would kiss the ground after departing an airplane in a foreign land. (I still remember my father explaining to me that this was a sign of affection for the people he was visiting.) Despite my deficient understanding, I still liked him. He was a warm, grandpa-like figure. He responded joyfully to the excited crowds with his back-palmed wave. He would tenderly lay his hand upon the heads of children.

I knew he was the leader of our Church, but it is embarrassing how long it took me to learn that it due to being the successor to St. Peter. I rarely heard the things he would say. Not that he was actually silent or incomprehensible. His message just did not reach my ears. And when I would hear him, it was just churchy talk that did not take much root in me then. But still I remember one thing that really struck me.

I learned of it in CCD class (think of it as Sunday school on Wednesdays). I learned that the Pope had once been shot by a would-be assassin and came very close to dying. But the Pope recovered. But this was the stunning thing: He then when to the prison where his attacker was being held, sat and spoke with him, and forgave him.

Time Magazine put an photo of this on their cover. The article inside described the encounter this way:

The memory keeps one picture in particular: St. Peter's Square in May 1981. It shows Pope John Paul II in white robes, capsized backward on his seat, stricken, in a posture vaguely reminiscent of the Pietá. There is an adrenal burst of motion in the scene as the security men spring alive and the Pontiff¹s white Popemobile lurches off through the crowd.

Ordinarily, the spasm of savagery simply passes and recedes in time, an ugly, vivid memory. But last week, in an extraordinary moment of grace, the violence in St. Peter's Square was transformed. In a bare, white-walled cell in Rome's Rebibbia prison, John Paul tenderly held the hand that had held the gun that was meant to kill him (see cover). For 21 minutes, the Pope sat with his would-be assassin, Mehmet Ali Agca. The two talked softly. Once or twice, Agca laughed. The Pope forgave him for the shooting. At the end of the meeting, Agca either kissed the Pope's ring or pressed the Pope's hand to his forehead in a Muslim gesture of respect.

It was a startling drama of forgiveness and reconciliation. On one level, it was an intensely intimate transaction between two men. But if the Pope spoke in whispers, he also meant to proclaim a message to the world. The only other people in the cell with Agca and John Paul were the Pope's personal secretary, two security agents--and a Vatican photographer and television crew. The Roman Catholic Church for many centuries has used imagery--paintings, sculpture, architecture--to express its spiritual meanings. The Pope brought the photographer and the cameramen because he wanted the image in that cell to be shown around a world filled with nuclear arsenals and unforgiving hatreds, with hostile superpowers and smaller, implacable fanaticisms.

It is difficult to imagine a more perfect economy of drama. The Pope's deed spoke, not his words, and it spoke with the full authority of his mortal life and the danger to which Agca had subjected it. The meaning of John Paul's forgiveness was profoundly Christian. He embraced his enemy and pardoned him.

At the time, I had never read these words which move me so much today. What was my reaction back then? I just didn't get it. I could not understand why he would want to forgive the man who tried to kill him. And this made me wonder at him. I think this made me want to know what was behind all this.

Over the years, I learned more about the faith and more about him. Neither disappointed me. As for the Pope, unlike the celebrity heroes of my youth, including sports stars and politicians, my respect and admiration increased as I came to know more and more about him.

As a youth, he opposed the Nazi occupation. As a bishop, he opposed the Communist domination. As Pope, he has proclaimed Christ's good news and the dignity of every human person. Karol Wojtyla, aka John Paul II, passes on the teaching he has received and embodies it. He is the real deal.

Today marked the 25th anniversary of his election as Pope. Upon reflection, I've written this unusually long post out of thanksgiving and praise for this man and for the One who gave him to us. ... I can say that Pope John Paul II has much to do with me being here in seminary today. He has had a great influence on the person I have become, and for that I am very grateful.



The Busy Season
Friday, March 18, 2005, 3:32 PM

Today is a big day at our seminary: St. Joseph's Day. Last night there were great St. Patrick's Day celebrations in the pub (with green beverages and kerioke). Today there are no classes and most of the guys have already left for our week long Easter break.

When I tell people outside of seminary that we have an "Easter Break" they usually think that it would start on Easter, but by that time most of the work to be done in our parishes is finished. We are sent home to help at all of the Palm Sunday, Chrism, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil, and Easter Day Masses. Christmas is not the busiest time of year for the Church, it's Easter.

My carpool and I will not be departing until early Saturday morning. Of course, that all depends on the weather. Here it'ss 59 degrees and sunny, at home it's 25 degree and snowing with more on the way. We will see.



"Living Outside of Time" (part 2)
Tuesday, March 15, 2005, 9:46 PM

(See March 14th's post)

During my life on earth I was never much of a baseball fan, but since then I have gained a much deeper appreciation for everything. A baseball example will be helpful here. Imagine it is the bottom of the ninth, with two outs, in the final game of the World Series. A high pop-fly is arcing down to the outfield. Once the centerfielder encloses his mitt around the ball, many things happen in a logical sequence within this single moment.

First, the ball is caught. Next, the batter is out. Then, one team wins as the other team loses. And lastly, the winning team becomes the World Series Champion. Consider how the batter is not out before the ball is caught, how the game is not won before that batter gets out, and how is there is no World Series Champion until this game is won. These events are logically sequenced while they occur in the very same instant of time. (Some events occur at the same time and are logically simultaneous as well, as when the one team becomes the winner as the other becomes the loser. Here neither event logically precedes the other, they are logically simultaneous.)

My living and acting outside of time is like that moment of winning the World Series, but different. For starters, the happiness of winning a World Series cannot compare with the joy of obtaining heaven. Also, while the implications of catching that final out are finite and come to an end, my life consists of an infinite sum of events. My life is in God, and God is infinite, so my life is infinite. I experience and do the whole of it now, with order and reason to it all. Yet, none of this represents any hindrance to my freedom, for now I am totally and most fully free. Now I am both willing and able to do and experience goodness to the fullness of my being. In this way, like in many ways, I have become like God.



"Living Outside of Time" (part 1)
Tuesday, March 15, 2005, 12:37 PM

(See March 14th's post)

Dear Soul,

It disturbed me at first when I learned in my youth that God and heaven exist outside of time. I envisioned that after death we would become like statues, frozen in body and mind for all eternity. But I quickly dismissed this idea, reasoning that the heaven promised to us could not possibly be like that, so dreadfully static. I was right to dismiss my fear.

Now I live outside of time and all of my eternity is now. There is no time, because there is no change, since everything is in the act of fulfillment. My every action and experience is present, on going, and unending. I know that this kind of life is hard for you to comprehend, but for me to live it is not difficult at all. Although everything is now, that does not mean my state of existence is incomprehensible. Though there is no more time, there remains a logical sequence to existence. This is something I want to teach you about.

How can events be ordered without reference to time? Consider this example: Imagine that your sister is getting married to Thomas. Which of these happens first: Tom's marrying your sister, or your gaining of a brother-in-law? Think about this for a moment. Though these two events happen simultaneously in time, the marriage logically occurs before Tom becomes your brother-in-law. These events are not temporally, but logically or causally sequenced. It is possible for a whole string of simultaneous events to be ordered in this way--This is how one experiences and acts in life outside of time.



"The Day I Died" with "Preface"
Monday, March 14, 2005, 5:07 PM

It is my pleasure to present today the first installments of a fictional writing of mine. It seems to me that there is a need in our time for these sorts of reflections. A thing must be known before it can be sought and loved. I hope to these writings will help make God and heaven better known. I am liable to error in my conceptions (and open to correction), but I believe the project is worthwhile. If you benefit from what I have written, I recommend reading The Screwtape Letters and Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, for whom I have much gratitude.


Preface

I have no intention of explaining how the correspondence which I now offer to you came into my possession. But, in humble obedience to the author's stated desire, I present them here "for the glory of God and the good of souls."

[-The Publisher]


The Day I Died

Dear Soul,

The day I died I was on my way home. Driving by myself, I merged into the right turn lane and pulled up to the light. This would be the intersection of my new life's beginning and my old life's end.

Distracting thoughts, fatigue, impatience, all of these contributed to my error. I got the mistaken impression that the large truck approaching on the left (with the right of way) was going to stop on its own. I pulled ahead, then realized what was about to happen. My last spoken words were a regrettable expletive, but thankfully these were not to be my final words on earth. The front grill of the truck crashed into my door. There was incredible violence and a horrible sound. I saw white, then red, then black.

When I came to a few minutes later I couldn't feel much, but everywhere I could still feel there was piercing pain. At that moment God gave two gifts to me. First I received the certain knowledge that I was very soon about to die. Then He gave me the grace to pray. These were my last, silent words:

"Oh my God, my God. Help me, please help me. Please forgive me (all of my sins). Please bless them (my beloved family and friends). Please protect them, please help them. Thank you (for everything). Please forgive me. Please accept me. (Lord Jesus,) I love you."

And then, for a little while, it was just me and Him. I still felt my pain, but now I felt His peace. He had never before seemed so close to me, and I had never before loved Him so much. After this, release, and the beginning of my unending life.



Ora Pro Nobis, Virgo Maria
Sunday, March 13, 2005, 9:44 PM

The silent retreat was great. On Friday I was worried about my mounting homework, but by Saturday that feeling had left. It was wonderful. Today I experienced my favorite and perhaps most fruitful Mass of the year. Everything was very slowly done, very prayerfully, and the hymns were beautiful. I really liked our Gospel reading today because it was read really really slowly. I loved it, the raising of Lazarus. It made the story come alive, though I'm afraid some fellow seminarians were dying.

After the silence lifted I came across the following email message from our Vice Rector:

Colleagues,

It was brought to my attention that today, Saturday, 03/12/05, there were a number of strangers (one man and I believe, four women), on campus who were involved in some very suspicious activity. About 1:15 p.m. They were in front of the theology building, just under St. Joseph's Oratory, yelling something like "Down with Mariology." (The fact that they would know the term is interesting). Anyway, they were yelling other things and some of them even had their hands on the bricks of the building.

Now, I assume this is nothing about which to be frightened, but I want to make you aware of it (especially concerned I am for the statues of the Blessed Virgin).

(...)




Neglecting the Good or Embracing the Best?
Friday, March 11, 2005, 4:41 PM

Once a relative and I were talking about the issue of whether or not to save one's self until marriage--but not just in that way, but by refraining from kissing and all other such romantic contact beyond occasional hugs. At first I felt this was a quite a bit excessive, like the view of those who regard all dancing as wrong because it can sometimes be done sinfully. I suspected that the abstinence she was describing was something a person would be inclined to out of fear.

But then she told me about a conversation she once had with a friend who is abstaining in this way with the woman he plans to marry. That friend said that in this way he can regard his beloved even more like a precious gem which he will receive on their wedding day (as he gives himself totally in joy and love to her). My relative reported that when she heard this she had thought to herself, "I want to be a gem!"

When I heard that, I got the strong notion that I had completely misjudged her situation regarding this issue--though I couldn't quite articulate why at the time. I encouraged her to proceed exactly as she thought best. This was why: she was excited! She was clearly not running fearfully from a good thing in order to settle for an inferior way of life. She was listening to her deep inner longings to freely pursue and embrace a better way. She was running to the best, not fleeing from the good.

There's something to think about. I will be on silent retreat this weekend. That means no posts until Sunday.



It's About Human Dignity, By George
Thursday, March 10, 2005, 9:14 AM

Last night we attended a talk by Dr. Robert George entitled "Reason, Freedom, and the Rule of Law". I found it quite interesting, even if the 1.5 hour length seemed a bit too long. Basically, his talk addressed whether the rule of law is morally neutral or good in itself. The answer is not a given, since even a totalitarian state could impose evil law with clarity, consistency, stability, and so forth.

Dr. George concluded that the rule of law is more than just a morally neutral instrument (like the "good" knife which is equally useful at slicing ingredients or killing people). He said that the rule of law is more so a good in itself because it tends to imply the equality and dignity of persons. It regards people as operating by reason rather than merely passions in choosing the goals of their actions. This is freewill, which implies human dignity. The two, he said, must always go together.

In a short while the students will be gathering again for another 1.5 hour question session. Hopefully we'll keep it interesting and lively.



The Theoscope
Wednesday, March 9, 2005, 11:51 PM

Last August an inspiring blogger named Julie entered the Nashville Dominicans. At the time she wrote her farewell post as follows: "So I say the same to you, dear reader. It's only good-bye until heaven. Feel free to introduce yourself when you get there. :)" (Incidently, she had also asked for our prayers in the meantime.) It now seems her former blog site is offline completely, but I tracked down in Google's cache something I remembered. She named her blog the Theoscope and this is why:

Have you ever wondered what Mary meant by, "My soul magnifies the Lord?" Mary’s soul is our theoscope. Her soul makes God seem bigger to us. Her heart, her soul do not affect the object, but they are instruments of a clearer and more perfect perception for us who are pilgrims on the way.



Are You Plugged In?
Tuesday, March 8, 2005, 2:51 PM

Experience has taught me that whenever I'm have difficulty getting some electronic appliance to work one of the first things I should check is whether the thing is plugged in. A similar tip seems to apply to prayer. If your prayer seems to be bearing no fruit it might be because you're not really asking for anything. If your requests are so nebulous that even you don't know what you're looking for, then how are you ever going to recognise the gift when given. If you don't know what you should be asking for, then make that request for wisdom your prayer.



One-Liner
Monday, March 7, 2005, 4:19 PM

Here is the collected list of the 50 greatest one-liners said by creatures in the Gospels.



You Don't See That Every Day
Sunday, March 6, 2005, 10:03 PM

This morning three of us went off campus (as required once a month) to attend Mass at a local nearby church: St. Joan's. There I enjoyed confession (aka the sacrament of reconciliation) with Father Bill Hahn, formerly Deacon Bill of across the hall and a few doors down. This was my first encounter with someone I knew as a seminarian doing his ministry as a priest. Intellectually I knew that priests have not always been priests, that they are not created ex nihilo (out of nothing), but it is a wonderful thing to witness firsthand.

In other news, this evening the seminary hosted a "fiesta" fundraiser for the hispanic community complete with a mariachi band. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, in town for a conference held across the street, stopped in with his wife and kids and stayed for 15/20 minutes. (Yes really.) I haven't heard if he'll be back.



#1 - Luke 1:38
Sunday, March 6, 2005

"May it be done to me according to your word." - Mary



#2 - Matthew 16:16
Saturday, March 5, 2005

"You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." - Simon Peter



#3 - John 2:5
Friday, March 4, 2005

"Do whatever he tells you." - Mary



#4 - Matthew 3:2
Thursday, March 3, 2005

"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." - John the Baptist



Installed: Some Highlights
Wednesday, March 2, 2005, 1:34 PM

Monday evening, the night before the installation, there was a Vespers prayer service at the cathedral. Because our bishop-elect was not yet installed, Archbishop Dolan presided. Even before meeting the Archbishop I liked him on account of his practical and valuable book Priests for the Third Millennium. In person, he is so warm you can get tan just standing next to him. I also had the pleasure of encountering Archbishop Burke again, even if for only briefly.

In the midst Vespers, Archbishop Dolan was remarking upon how fortunate we were in who we were receiving as our new bishop. It was then that I looked over at the bishop-elect and considered the thought that I would have to be willing "to take a bullet for this guy" considering the solemn promise I will be taking to be obedient to him (in all things but sin). After that, I desired that he would be a holy and wise bishop quite a bit more ardently.

That night and the next day, the seminarians of the diocese shared some good times. We ate, chatted, and prayered together at the diocean center where we were provided rooms.

Tuesday's installation was a beautiful ceremony. I carried in a candle and got a seat close to the altar right next to the cathedral's cornerstone (placed September 11, 1960). The cathedral was filled, in fact many could not get tickets to come. Two-fifths of the pews were occupied by vested priests of the diocese, a rather impressive sight below the tapestry of color on the pillars cast by the stained glass windows on that sunny day.

After the apostolic nuncio's inaudible reading of Pope John Paul's letter of appointment, our bishop-elect was escorted to the chair from which every "cathedral" gets its name. He took his Louisville-Slugger crossier in hand, took his seat, and became the ninth bishop in the history of our diocese. In remarks that followed, he told the story of when he came to see our previous bishop's installation. A vigiliant Knight of Columbus stopped him at the door because he did not have a ticket and he had to watch the ceremony from the vestibule. Today, however, he had a seat.

The Mass was excellent. Afterwards I walked with two DB's to a well attended reception. Our new bishop was standing for hours meeting and greeting people in the reception line. Preferring not to add to his burden I opted to meet him for the first time in another, more relaxed setting. At the end of this full day, we drove back home.



Spreading the Word
Wednesday, March 2, 2005, 2:11 PM

Today my family will be heading south to stay at a hotel for a few days. There my mother will attend some training seminars. Though this will be fun, but it does not appear that this week will be the productive study time I had dreamed. Oh well. This also means no new blog postings for a few days.

My mother reports that, for the last two days, EWTN has been popping up in unusual places on our basic cable. If you share my cable company why not send them an email requesting that they provide it a permanent place? Feedback has an impact.

An email example:

Dear Sir or Madam,

Please add EWTN, the Eternal Word Television Network, to your assortment of basic cable channels. It offers good programming that would speak to, and be enjoyed by, many people in our area.

Sincerely,
(Name)
(Town)




#5 - Luke 17:13
Wednesday, March 2, 2005

"[Jesus, Master!] Have pity on us!" - Lepers



#6 - John 21:17
Tuesday, March 1, 2005

"Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." - Peter



#7 - Mark 9:24
Monday, Febuary 28, 2005

"I do believe, help my unbelief!" - The father of a possessed boy



Sunday Summary
Sunday, Febuary 27, 2005, 11:36 PM

Saturday: Two DB's and I drove back home listening to George Weigel's very interesting papal biography book-on-tape Witness to Hope. I checked it out from the seminary library. Pope John Paul's messages and actions of human dignity and divine calling always inspire me. I was dropped off midway on the trip to my mom and dad and stayed at my sister and brother-in-law's pad. We watched the end of Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind and Forgotten, two rather memorable movies.

Sunday: In the early morning we took off to home, stopping briefly before heading on Mass. During the day I enjoyed watching a tape from the church about Catholic convertions and very much savored viewing The Village. A subtle moral of the latter: suffering is impossible to avoid. To this I would add the observation: it will either destroy you or transform you if you permit it to.

Monday: I plan to be picked up by my DB buds again to travel to the diocean see (where the bishop's seat is), where our soon-to-be bishop is soon-to-be installed. I'll come back with my first-hand report in a couple of days.



#8 - John 20:28
Sunday, Febuary 27, 2005

"My Lord and my God!" - Thomas



#9 - John 20:18
Saturday, Febuary 26, 2005

"I have seen the Lord." - Mary of Magdala



Get Connected - Enjoy it now as a gift - It's Prepaid
Friday, Febuary 25, 2005, 8:36 PM

Over the past 1.5 semesters I have been reading The Diary of St. Faustina. (I always find it humorous when I say that: Usually reading another person's diary involves sneaking around.) She is called the Apostle of Devine Mercy because she was sent to tell the world of about Divine Mercy. In a few words, God's mercy is inexhaustible, and He longs to bestow it, if only we would only allow Him. "Jesus, I trust in you."

Anyway, this evening I read a passage that I would like to share with you. She wrote it April 19, 1938, in the last year of her life:

"At present, I am getting letters from sisters who are in other houses and who made their novitiate with me. They often amuse me and make me laugh, as they usually go something like this: 'Dear Sister Faustina, we are very sorry that you are so gravely ill; but we are very happy that, when the Lord Jesus takes you away, you will pray for us, for you have a lot of influence with the Lord.' One of the sisters put it this way: 'When you die, Sister, please take me under your special care, for certainly you can do that for me.' Another sister wrote as follows: 'How I am waiting for the time when the Lord Jesus will take you, because I know what will happen then; and I greatly desire death for you.' I did want to ask her what she was thinking of, concerning my death, but I mortified myself and answered, 'The same thing will happen to me, a sinner, as happens to all sinners, if God's mercy does not shield me.'"

I would also like to share a link to Peggy Noonan's latest column, her homage de blog. Scroll down to what she writes about Hillary Clinton, Condi Rice, and the patron saint of the Internet. Her piece even includes the pope's email address: john_paul_II@vatican.va. Talk about access!

It now occurs to me what St. Faustina's random dairy entries on her everyday and extrodinary experiences read like. If Faustina were alive today, she would probably be a blogger. But as it is she has high-speed access to a much wider reaching and better connected network.



#10 - John 18:38
Friday, Febuary 25, 2005

"What is truth?" - Pilate



So What I Do On Wednesdays?
Wednesday, Febuary 24, 2005, 11:19 PM

I addition to my three classes on this day, several other noteable activites happen on Wednesday. Every Wednesday afternoon I organize and play indoor soccer for an hour in the gym, using the basketball court for our field of play. What do you call someone who can't play soccer well? An American. After this, I take a quick shower and meet the DB's in St. Rose's chapel for diocean evening prayer. After vespers we head down to the refectory together for dinner. That's always a good time of fraternal bonding. Later, on some evenings such as yesterday's, I join with the other theology student senators for a meeting in the board room. There we pound out legislation for making the seminary safe for theology. Sometimes at 9:00 I head over to the college for their Eucharistic Holy Hour and night prayers. That's always a great wrap up for the day.



#11 - John 6:67b
Thursday, Febuary 24, 2005

"You have the words of eternal life." - Peter



Jesus as Parable
Wednesday, Febuary 23, 2005, 10:37 PM

You may have noticed how I am passing along more things from others than I have writing abuout myself. This is because I will be home all of next week for the installation our new bishop. In preparation I'm pulling something like double duty this week, so there's less time for posting.

Today I would like to share a great passage written by our very own Father John McDermott, SJ. He teaches me Philosophy of God three times a week. I'll be taking one of his exams before I go. Here he talks about Jesus' parables, which are so familiar that we fail to notice how very unusual they are and what this oddness is meant to teach:

"Some exegetes perceptively noted that Jesus' parables are usually not mere illustrations of universal moral precepts but startling claims for adherence and faith wrapped in stories from daily life. The sower follows the normal Palestinian practice of sowing before plowing, but where in the world does sowing bring a yield of thirty-fold, sixty-fold, and a hundred-fold (Mk. 4:1-9)? How long would a shepard survive economically who regularly abandons ninety-nine percent of his flock in the wilderness, where bears, wolves, and thieves abound, in the hope of corralling a wandering one percent (Lk. 15:3-7)? What father, after being wished dead by a selfish wastrel son, would watch for that son, run to him from afar, cut short his apology to celebrate his return, and restore him to filial honour (Lk. 15:11-32)? What kind would invite beggars to his son's marriage feast (Lk. 14:16-24) or forgive a debt of ten thousand talents, the rough equivalent of five or six billion dollars (*) today (Mt. 18:27)? What proprietor, after the maltreatment and murder of his servants, would send his only son to rebellious tenants in hope of winning their respect (Mk. 12:1-12)? Not in this world is such behavior the norm. In accepting Jesus' parables one has to see reality with new eyes, the eyes of divine love. One has to entrust himself to Jesus and His way in faith."

(*) - "This is a rough estimate. A talent was worth 6,000 denarii, and a denarius was the daily wage for an average worker. Granted an American worker earning $30,000 for 300 days work a year, one arrives at a substantial equivalent. In any case Jesus' parable tells of the forgiveness of a fabulous debt."




#12 - John 6:67a
Wednesday, Febuary 23, 2005

"Master, to whom shall we go?" - Peter rhetorically, when asked by Jesus "Do you also want to leave me?"



From Our Prayer Board
Tuesday, Febuary 22, 2005, 9:13 PM

"Please Pray for the repose of the soul of my cousin, Jason Timmerman, who was shot and killed today in Baghdad. Especially pray for his family and his wife of one year, Teresa. -Paul 2-21-05"



#13 - John 3:30
Tuesday, Febuary 22, 2005

"He must increase; I must decrease." - John the Baptist



Do You Have the Time?
Monday, Febuary 21, 2005, 10:40 AM

I suppose this is one way to do it. This reminds me of my effort to keep up with my readings and papers.

Hat tip: My Uncle Jim



#14 - Matthew 14:30
Monday, Febuary 21, 2005

"Lord, save me!" - Peter on the water



Showing Some Catholic Heart
Sunday, Febuary 20, 2005, 6:41 PM

I'm proud to link over to these two reflections from my seminary brother over at CatholicHeart.com

  • And Two Become One Flesh - A new look at the Eucharist.

  • Eight Simple Ways - Pick one or two ways to see God in the ordinary.



  • #15 - Luke 1:28
    Sunday, Febuary 20, 2005

    "[Hail, favored one!] The Lord is with you." - Gabriel



    Great Sacrifices
    Saturday, Febuary 18, 2005, 7:44 PM

    So you may be wondering what I've given up for Lent. This year (among other things) I'm setting aside my late-night ways to get to bed by 11:00 PM. I mentioned this to the ex-Mormon deacon I told you about the other day. He said, "So you're giving up not sleeping." Yeah... I guess that's right.

    Who in history is most like Christ?
    Socrates of Athens
    David of Israel
    Mary of Nazareth
    Paul of Tarsus
    Francis of Assissi
    Ghandi of India
    Theresa of Calcutta
    John Paul of Rome
    (Someone else)


    #16 - John 1:29
    Saturday, Febuary 19, 2005

    "Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world." - John the Baptist



    Things You Would Otherwise Passover
    Friday, Febuary 18, 2005, 10:44 PM

    Tonight, after evening prayer, community stations of the cross, and my triweekly spiritual direction, I will be watching the film The Passion of the Christ over in the auditorium. Occasionally, one of our guys sets up his digital projection equiptment in there for movie watching. I have seen the movie several times. Here are some subtle details you'll find interesting:

  • When the two Mary's wake up in the night, Mary (the mother) asks, "Why is this night different from every other night?" Mary Magdalene answers, "Because once we were slaves and we are slaves no longer." This question is one of the four traditional questions asked in the Jewish Passover meal ritual (which was, by the way, the occasion for the Last Supper of that same night).

  • In the scene where 'Jesus makes a table', Mary comes out to him asking, "Jesus, are you hungry?" He answers, "Yes, I am." When you listen to his spoken Aramaic this is, "Cana." From this, we know why tradition makes such a point of refering to another event as "the miracle at the wedding of Cana", where Jesus, John records, "revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him." Through that miracle, Jesus began to teach them "Yes, I am", identifying himself with the God of Israel who bears that name.

    Several psalms are quoted (or alluded to) in the film, including:
  • "Rise up, defend me." - In the garden.
  • "I trust in you." - In the garden.
  • "My heart is ready, Father. My heart is ready." - At the pillar.
  • "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" - On the cross.



  • #17 - John 18:40
    Friday, Febuary 18, 2005

    "Not this one but Barabbas!" - The crowd chooses another who is named "son of the father".



    These are the People in my Neighborhood
    Thursday, Febuary 17, 2005, 9:34 PM

    There are a lot people here at seminary with very interesting backrounds. Here are a few examples from among our number:

  • A former Anglican minister, with wife and kids, now studying for the priesthood.

  • A former Baptist, then Mormon, who is today a deacon.

  • A former University of Notre Dame leprechaun, sports radio commentator, and radio DJ.

  • A DB of mine who was an accountant, banker, and attorney before finally finding (God willing) his priestly vocation.

  • A South-American seminarian who was once shot (for his bicycle) through the heart and left for dead, who testified against his gang-affliated attacker and now studys for a U.S. diocese in part for his safety.



  • #18 - Mark 4:38
    Thursday, Febuary 17, 2005

    "Teacher, do you not care that we are parishing?" - The disciples on the stormy sea.



    Polling Thoughts
    Wednesday, Febuary 16, 2005, 11:44 AM

    I don't know how it came up, but a bit of a bull session preceeded yesterday's Latin class. Which MJ has had the larger impact in the world: Michael Jackson or Michael Jordan? The question was still being disputed later that evening during our "study session" at a local coffee shop. I didn't finish much more there than my mug hot chocolate, but we had a lot of fun pondering questions like: "After Jesus, who in history was most like Christ?" It took a little doing, but I have netted the technology for you to join in the fun.

    Who has had more impact on the world?
    Michael Jackson
    Michael Jordan

    Who will be the 2008 Republican Presidential Candidate?
    Condoleeza Rice
    Some white guy



    #19 - John 12:19
    Wednesday, Febuary 16, 2005

    "Look, the whole world has gone after him." - Pharisees



    The A-Word
    Tuesday, Febuary 16, 2005, 10:35 AM

    I said the A-word yesterday. I was very disappointed in myself. I blame it on fatigue. It was at the start of Lauds, our morning prayer. Like always, the deacon and the lector (reader) had come in and the deacon had said, "God come to my assistance." We replied, "Oh Lord make haste to help me. (slight bow here) Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, (straighten back up) as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen." That's when it slipped out of me: "Alle****. Shoot." We refrain from saying the A-word during Lent so it will be more of a thrill to say it again on Easter. (Praise the Lord)



    #20 - Mark 1:37
    Tuesday, Febuary 15, 2005

    "Everyone is looking for you." - Simon Peter and company



    Baby Got Book
    Tuesday, Febuary 14, 2005, 10:23 AM

    My younger sister sent something my way she thought might even be blogworthy. I agreed. Here's a little audio-video featurette that won't crash my site. It's White Boy DJ with a parody song of biblical promotion.

    "39 plus 27 equals 66 books. And if you're Catholic, there's even more." (Oh yeah)



    #21 - Luke 17:5
    Monday, Febuary 14, 2005

    "Increase our faith." - The apostles



    Rightousness at Affordable Prices
    Sunday, Febuary 13, 2005, 12:34 PM

    This story came to my mind today on this the first Sunday of Lent. Once, a friend of mine was telling about how great it was that he could save money at a particular ski slope. He knew a girl who worked there and who could supply him with free lift tickets. "But isn't that stealing," I asked. He said that 'it's just a few bucks'. "But just a second ago you were saying how great it was." If you think your sins are small, then how little it should cost you to lose them. Consider: How much is a clear conscious worth to you?



    #22 - John 21:7
    Sunday, Febuary 13, 2005

    "It is the Lord." - The beloved disciple recognising the veiled presence of Christ.



    Know This, and It Will Set You Free
    Saturday, Febuary 12, 2005, 1:15 PM

    This morning all the seminarians gathered for an hour and 45 minute human formation talk, the third of its kind this year. Human formation is all about managing time, stress, and relationships. I came into it, not only looking forward to getting out of it, but also looking to get something out of it. I did, and that's what I'll share with you.

    Our experienced speaker stressed that our beliefs form our reality. Then later, he said that we must set realistic goals, otherwise we will become dispirited when we fail to attain them. Now each of these statements have truth to them. (For instance I like to say, "If you don't think that you can, then I think that you're right," because as long as you think you can't, you won't even try.) However, these statements would seem to contradict. If my beliefs really determined what was possible for me, then nothing would be impossible for me, given the proper state of mind.

    The two ideas are reconciled this way: The answer is that we should never accept lies about ourselves, about what we can do or what we cannot, both in terms of our present abilities and our future potential. We must live in the truth about ourselves. And how is the truth about ourselves known? Through our relationship with He who is Truth.



    #23 - John 19:5
    Saturday, Febuary 12, 2005

    "Behold, the man!" - Pilate



    Good Habit, Good Hobbit, Good Day
    Friday, Febuary 11, 2005, 2:56 PM

  • This morning I started the day the same way I start every Friday: at 6:30 in the chapel for a holy hour of adoration of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. It developed as the custom and my priviledge to lead in singing the tradtional beginning and ending hymns. As my good seminarian friend Mark (now in Rome) used to say, 'Even if you just show up and just balance your checkbook, get your butt down in front of the Blessed Sacament sometime. It's has powerful effects."

  • Tonight and tomorrow the college guys are putting on a stage version of Tolkien's The Hobbit. The play even made the front page of the Entertainment section of the city's major newspaper. I plan on attending tonight; it should be good and I don't see myself having the time to read the book any time soon.

  • Now it's time to head off to another Introduction to Catholic Morality. Until tomorrow.



  • #24 - Matthew 27:23a
    Friday, Febuary 11, 2005

    "[Why?] What evil has he done?" - Pilate



    Asking the Right Question
    Thursday, Febuary 10, 2005, 3:04 PM

    How can popular religious devotion be enlivened? Perhaps we are asking ourselves the wrong question. If I ask myself, "Am I good enough," then going to church on Sundays, trying to be nice to people, and praying occasionally might make me feel like I am better than most, thus meeting my requirements without too much hassle. We should ask ourselves, "Am I happy and fulfilled enough?" Seriously considering this question will put us on the path to perfection, the path to God.



    #25 - Luke 2:35a
    Thursday, Febuary 10, 2005

    "And you yourself a sword will piece." - Simeon



    Big Fat Tuesday Fun
    Wednesday, Febuary 9, 2005, 2:30 PM

    Last night, on the last evening before Ash Wednesday, the Senate threw a Mardi Gras party for the Theologate in the basement lounge. Before dinner we enjoyed red and white wine, cheeses and crackers. In the refectory we were treated to tender ribs for dinner. Then we came back downstairs for practically perfect apple pie, ice cream, and cookies from my diocese. Musical talent was on display the whole evening.

    As the party was dying down I printed off my Piano Man seminary parody and performed it to the great pleasure of all. After that, we joined together and made some good music. It felt like the best time I've had in a week.



    #26 - John 9:25
    Wednesday, Febuary 9, 2005

    "One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see." - The man born blind



    It's a Little Bit Funny
    Tuesday, Febuary 8, 2005, 2:22 PM

    Last night we went out to do Latin at a mall coffee shop and afterwards sang a few karaoke songs. I stepped up and said, "I know what you're thinking, 'Young, untalented, nerd. Well you're wrong. I'm not that young. Here's a little something I wrote in the late 1970's. I hope
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