Tuesday, June 30, 2009

No Paper, No Way

I have just decided to postpone writing my paper that is due Thursday until tomorrow. I know this is a bad idea, but my bed keeps calling my name. Luckily I have much of tomorrow open to work on it. For some reason I cannot get inspired to write it. This is of course bad because I only have one day of inspiring left before it is too late.

Monday, June 29, 2009

New England's Catholic Martyr

I found this interesting passage online recently (unfortunately I have lost the link to give credit to the original source) and wanted to share it with you. It is about Ann Good Glover a Irish Catholic Martyr from New England. When I think off early New England I don't often think of Catholic martyrs, but it happened. So much for fleeing religious persection. The early puritans must have had short term memories.

Ann "Goody" Glover

The last woman to be hanged in Boston as a witch was Ann Glover, an Irish washerwoman who was wildly accused in 1688 of practicing witchcraft by the infamous Reverend Cotter Mather. Her Puritan accusers were caught up in a witch mania that was part of the rigid Puritanism of the time, attaching supernatural causes to things they couldn't explain, especially medical conditions.

Goody was born in Ireland in the first half of the 17th century. She was an Irish slave sent to Barbados by Englishman Oliver Cromwell in the 1650s. Her husband died there, and by 1680 she and her daughter were living in Boston, employed as housekeepers by John Goodwin. But unlike most other Irish Catholic immigrants of the time, they refused to convert, in spite of the lack of priests or a church to attend. Holding to her religion would prove a fatal mistake for Ann.

In the summer of 1688, four of the five Goodwin children fell ill. The doctor concluded "nothing but a hellish Witchcraft could be the origin of these maladies." Martha, the 13-year-old daughter, confirmed the doctor's diagnosis by claiming she became ill right after she caught Glover stealing laundry. Glover was arrested and tried as a witch. In the courtroom there was confusion over Glover's testimony since she refused to speak English even though she knew the language. She was interrogated by the Reverend Cotton Mather of later Salem Witch Trial infamy. According to Mather "the court could have no answers from her, but in the Irish, which was her native language." It comes as no surprise that Mather claimed that Annie Glover confessed she was a witch. The court convicted Glover of witchcraft and sentenced her to be hanged. Though no other confessed-witch had ever been hanged at the time, Mather condemned Ann Glover to death. On November 16, 1688, Ann Glover was hanged in Boston for the misfortune of being a resolute Irish-speaking Catholic in Puritan New England. Author James B. Cullen wrote, "She was drawn in a cart, a hated and dreaded figure, chief in importance, stared at and mocked at, through the principal streets from her prison to the gallows. The people crowded to see the end, as always. When it was over, they quietly dispersed, leaving the worn-out body hanging as a 'lesson' to evil-doers." During the trial, he called Glover "a scandalous old Irishwoman, very poor, a Roman Catholic and obstinate in idolatry."

A decade after Glover was hanged, Mather was still preaching against "idolatrous Roman Catholicks" trying to preserve a parochial society that was quickly changing. In Boston's South End, Our Lady of Victories Eucharistic Shrine has a plaque remembering Ann Glover as the first Catholic martyr of Massachusetts. The church is located at 27 Isabella Street. On November 16, 1988, the Boston City Council took note of the injustice done to Ann Glover 300 years earlier by proclaiming that day "Goody Glover Day" and condemning what had been done to her.

Brilliant Idea, But I Can't Tell You About It

Tonight I am posting from a table outside of the dorm at Creighton. It is currently 12:17am and absolutely beautiful outside. If I were in New Hampshire right now I would have been carried away by mosquitoes and taken into the Forrest to feed their young. In Nebraska however, there seem to be few pesky bugs! The tornadoes must have something to do with it or perhaps Nebraska corn is like Venus fly traps for mosquitoes. Either way it is one of those nights to spend underneath the stars.

The reason I am outside is because I am working on a project for the fall. It is huge and involves the year of the priest. Hopefully on Tuesday I will be able to send out my proposal and recieve the approval to officially begin. Once we get a green light I will be sure to share the details. In the meantime I must use discretion and leave you guessing. Although I am dying to share inside because it is a great idea.

Last night the four other seminarians and I from St. Mary's went out for our official Omaha Steaks. The place we went to was said to be Warren Buffet's favorite. I was kind of counting on him to come and cover the tab, but we had no such luck. I am sure if he was there and saw us he would have.

The steak was great, but honestly not that different then what you get at home. The highlight for me was the passive aggressive waitress! I kept trying to anticpate what she could next that would be even more rude than before. All I will say is that she must have been a mind reader, because it went from bad to worse. I was nice and tried to be as Christ like, but secretly wished I could react like He did to the money changers in the table. After some further reflection, I realize there was nothing passive about her passive agressiveness. LOL

Well I probably should head to bed as there are only five lights on in the entire building (from my vantage point).

I am outside late at night brainstorming about a huge and exciting project I am planning for the fall. I do not have approval so I cannot mention on the blog yet, but God willing I might be able to soon. The only hint I can give you is that it is about the year of the priest. It is killing me that I cannot tell anyone about it.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Making the Simple Complicated

Sorry for the lapse in posts recently. I have been trying to stick to daily postings but ran out of steam this week. I am happily back in business after a great night's sleep and a late morning start!

The end of this week concluded with two days of lectures by Theology of the Body expert and author Christopher West. West is well known in Catholic circles for his work and well loved by most seminarians. I liked some of what West had to say but felt some of it was over done. He also had a very annoying habit of breaking into song to make his point, drawing on parts of 80's love songs. It worked for many of the guys but I could not help but to be annoyed. Sometimes I amazed at how complicated people can make faith. I may be the only one who thinks this way, in which case so be it, but sometimes I wonder the need for overly eloborate analogies, rich language and drawn discussions to look at God's love. In my humble estimation God's love for us is so great and far beyond our understanding that any attempt to understand it fully will fall short. Now I am not one to fall into the Jesus loves me camp and that is all I need. However, when we attempt to read into absolutly everything to fifty differnt levels I sometimes think we miss the beauty of God's love that can be found in its simplicty. It reminds me of people who go in vacation and try to do a million things with friends to say they had fun, when in fact the most fun they could have is sitting around a table, the lake or by the ocean and enjoying the moment. Rollar coasters are fun, adventurers are fun and fulfilling, however there is a depth and joy that comes in suplicity that can never be found in an amusement park or rafting down the colarado. The depth found in simplicity is in the heart.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Interesting and Profound Article

Below is a brilliant article by Micah Watson from the Witherspoon Institue. Let me know what you think.

Is the Abortion Debate Over?

The lines of disagreement in the philosophical debate over abortion have never been clearer. While the politics of abortion remain as tumultuous and contested as they have ever been, the underlying philosophical, ethical, and scientific issues have been clarified to the extent that any careful person can examine the arguments of both sides and come to a principled and informed position.

This has not always been the case. Before the Supreme Court thrust the issue onto the national stage more than thirty-six years ago, pro-choice philosophers like Judith-Jarvis Thompson and pro-life philosophers like Germain Grisez were contributing to a debate that became more politically contentious even as the underlying scientific and philosophical issues were becoming clearer.

Consider the basic pro-life argument as it has developed over the last thirty years. Though there are many versions and several sophisticated philosophers who have made the case in more formal terms, the argument rests on three simple fundamental beliefs. The first is normative, the second medical or scientific, and the third is political.

The normative premise is that human life is a fundamental good and all human beings have a right to life. Some philosophers hold that this is a right not to be intentionally killed, though the killing of a human being may be accepted if it is the foreseen but unintended consequence of another justified action. Other philosophers do not completely rule out intending to kill a human being, but would take culpability and desert into account. Regardless, pro-lifers generally agree that unborn human beings have a right to life that cannot be violated.

The scientific belief that ties into the normative premise is the simple medical fact that embryos and fetuses are human beings. There is no longer, strictly speaking, any debate about “when life begins.” That question has been answered not by religious authority but by the disciplines of human biology and embryology. A human life begins at the moment of conception when a distinct and complete, though immature, human being forms from the joining of her parents’ gametes.

What follows from the conjoining of the scientific and normative beliefs is disarmingly simple: all human beings have a right to life; unborn human beings are human beings; thus unborn human beings have a right to life. When you add the basic political belief that the purpose of governments and laws is to protect fundamental human rights, you arrive at the basic pro-life position.

The scientific component of the argument has become very clear over the last few years. No longer do we hear as much about “clumps of tissue” and the “products of conception” and other euphemistic attempts to obfuscate what is at stake in the abortion debate. Thanks to the remarkable advances in medical imaging technology, this scientific truth seems to be making inroads in the general public. When describing the realties portrayed in the ultrasounds pictures that now adorn millions of kitchen refrigerators, we refer to those creatures pictured by their names. They are not masses of tissue with the potential to be human; they are human beings, our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, and grandchildren.

This clarifying advance in the scientific realm has also affected the normative debate. The argument is no longer about what sort of entity is killed during an abortion, but whether each human being, as a human being, has a right to life. Unlike the scientific consensus about when a human life begins, here the debate remains contentious, though the central dividing line is once again surprisingly simple.

Either one believes that all human beings as such have a right to life, or one believes that amongst the category of human beings some have a fundamental right to life and others do not. Hence the debate has shifted from determining when human life begins to when human personhood begins. This clarification of the debate is welcome and edifying, as Ryan Anderson illustrates with his account of just this sort of discussion at a recent event at Princeton.

Pro-choice philosophers differ amongst themselves about what qualities of a human being warrant the designation of human person, and when in the life cycle those qualities are salient enough to declare personhood. One such quality is the ability to feel pain, another is self-awareness, and yet a third is viability, or the capacity of the fetus to live outside the womb. Other pro-choice philosophers, however, take a different tack. They acknowledge a right to life for all human beings, but find other rights held by the mother to outweigh the right to life of the unborn human being. A mother, the argument might run, has a right to her own bodily integrity, or perhaps a right to make plans for the future autonomously. According to this line of thinking, such rights outweigh the real but secondary right to life of the fetus. Thus pro-lifers will refer to a fundamental right to life to distinguish their position from pro-choice advocates who acknowledge a right to life but believe it can be defeated.

Pro-life theorists often differ about political strategies and prudential tactical choices. They also differ amongst themselves as to the grounding of the normative claim that human life is a good. Some pro-lifers emphasize the religious underpinnings of the sacredness of life and the Judeo-Christian concept of imago dei; others do not necessarily hold such beliefs but start from the self-evident good of human life and leave theological considerations out of the public discussion. It is fair to say that pro-lifers generally agree on both the value of all human beings regardless of age and state of development and on the goal of seeing this value protected in law and cherished by the culture. They often disagree, however, on the argumentative and political means to achieve that end.

Nevertheless, the philosophical debate about the normative dimensions of the abortion issue still comes down to the aforementioned watershed difference: either human beings as such have a right to life, or some human beings have a right to life and are thus persons, and some are not and are thus expendable.

While pro-life philosophers must continue their work by applying principles to emerging bioethical questions, the argumentative clarity achieved by their work in the abortion debate has implications for pro-lifers who seek to continue to influence both the law and the culture. Perhaps the most important implication is also the most obvious. If the philosophical debate about abortion is over, the political debate remains.

What is needed now are pro-life thinkers and activists who have the intellectual chops to navigate the arguments and insights of the philosophers, the communication skills to translate them for both the pro-life rank-and-file and the persuadable middle, and the charisma and savvy to inspire and guide the pro-life movement. What we need, in other words, is more people like Scott Klusendorf and more books like his recently published The Case for Life: Equipping Christians to Engage the Culture (Crossway Books).

Klusendorf is president of the Life Training Institute and travels the country arguing for the pro-life cause. His book can perhaps best be described as a sort of bridge between the robust philosophical arguments of people such as Gerard Bradley, Francis Beckwith, and Robert P. George, and concerned citizens who care about abortion but are not going to trouble themselves with the distinctions between essential and accidental qualities of persons and mind-body metaphysical dualism. Klusendorf has a gift for explaining arguments without dumbing them down. It is not too much of a stretch to say that he has a bit of C.S. Lewis’s knack for taking what can be a complex-sounding issue and presenting in terms that regular people can understand. And, like Lewis, he often does this through helpful analogy and fictional, though entirely realistic, dialogue.

As the subtitle suggests, Klusendorf’s book is primarily written for Christians. Yet this should not be taken to suggest that the book is only written for religious believers. Many of Klusendorf’s arguments in the first three parts of the book apply to the pro-life movement as such and it is only in the fourth and last section that he devotes four chapters to the specifically Christian call to engage the culture for the sake of the unborn. His book is an invaluable resource that will reward the pro-life Christian and non-Christian alike, both for its substantive and winsome arguments about abortion and for its blueprint for influencing the culture with those arguments.

The short-term challenges for the pro-life community are as important as they are daunting given President Obama’s positive commitment to abortion and a compliant Congress. On the political front pro-lifers must continue to pursue prudent and commonsensical policies that restrict abortion at the state level. Parental notification, waiting periods, informed consent, and bans on particularly gruesome forms of abortion are worth defending and implementing. To borrow a sports analogy, hitting for singles and doubles has proven to be a more effective strategy than swinging for the home run that would be the repeal of Roe v. Wade.

At the federal level pro-lifers will be playing defense, given changed political realities. But even this shift can prepare for future success. It is telling that President Obama has had to back off his pledge to sign the Freedom of Choice Act, the pro-choice dream legislation that would codify Roe and transform abortion from a negative right that the government cannot fully obstruct to a positive right for which the government must provide the means. The pro-life movement must bring pressure to bear on these matters, expending political capital whether on high-profile legislation like FOCA or on more subtle attempts to achieve the substance of FOCA through executive orders and “add-on” language buried in more mundane legislation.

On the cultural level, pro-lifers must not shrink back from engaging the debate in a respectful and winsome manner in all venues and at all levels. Princeton professor Robert George sets an outstanding example in his discussion with Pepperdine University’s Doug Kmiec about abortion and the Obama administration. Of course not every conversation will achieve such a level of erudition, but the “everyday” conversations that will take place over the next few years will go a long way in determining whether ours will be a culture that values and protects life or a culture that continues to narrow the boundaries of what it means to be fully human.

Circumspection is prudent when confronted with claims that “now” is the crucial moment for a political movement’s success. Yet there are signs that the pro-life cause is making headway. Recent polling data is encouraging, if not definitive, and the changed language of the political discourse surrounding abortion is telling. For decades there have been tens of thousands of dedicated pro-lifers making a difference in schools, churches, and crisis pregnancy centers. Meanwhile pro-life academics have made the intellectual case for the unborn, often at personal and professional cost, and politicians and lawyers have fought for modest but successful protections in law and policy. Perhaps we are seeing some promising signs that these labors are bearing fruit in the attitudes of citizens throughout the culture.

In other words, this is not the time to shrink back from engaging the debate, whether in the Ivy League classroom, the factory lunchroom, or at the family reunion. Pro-life thinkers would do well to consider how to inspire and equip the average citizen who knows there is something terribly wrong with abortion, but isn’t sure how to think about the issue or address it with friends and family. Scott Klusendorf’s book is an excellent place to start.

College World Series

Tonight three of us snuck out of our evening activities in order to attend the final game of the college world series. The game was between LSU and Texas and was held at Omaha's Rosenblatt Stadium. Our seats were in left field and had shade. As it has been in the 90's all week this was essential. The crowd was festive and evenly split between the two teams. I was cheering for LSU, which was a good thing as they destroyed Texas 11-4.

To be honest I am not a big baseball fan, but I found the game to be a blast. It was nice to enjoy the beautiful weather, a nice breeze and great company. I met the nicest people seated around us and learned many interesting things about Nebraska. It was also cool to say that I went to the final game of the College World Series.

As far as dodging out of the evening activities, they have been cool about it for such things. I also saw six other seminarians at the same game, so I imagine there were many more of us there. As I missed evening prayer I am off to the Church (11:23pm) to say my prayers and head to bed.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Today I began my volunteer work at a local assisted living community. After spending 90 minutes on a tour and going through orientation, I was off and running. I was assigned to work with two little old ladies and a little old man. I was able to catch up with Alice (all names changed for confidentiality purposes)on the 15 floor of the building. We sat and chatted for over an hour, as she pointed out the major sites across Omaha. It was very interesting to hear Alwace talk about life in Omaha in the sixties and racial integration. Alice is white, and her family was ahead of its time. She attended an integrated parish and was on the front lines of many civil rights struggles. Should told me several stories about her beloved Irish pastor who marched with Martin Luther King Jr. She also told me about how he hosted a few communist speakers (she did not seem to mind). So, I was impressed and shocked at the same time.

The second person I met today was an 83 year old man named Charlie. He was a jolly fellow, but was busy playing Texas Hold Em Poker at the "men's club" . The club is a room with card tables, pool tables, air hockey, darts, etc.... They also had life sized cut-outs of Betty Boop and Marylin Monroe. I stayed a little while with Charlie as he gambled but left before the end.

The final woman I will be working with, Olive, was out for the day.

On the way out of the building I did meet a lovely woman who told me the story of how she fell in love with her husband and how they enjoyed 58 years of marriage together. He had passed on, but she could only smile and thank God for each day she had with him. She was filled with joy and made my heart melt.

Between now and the end of the month I will be spending much of the day on Tuesday and Thursday with my "adopted grandparents." I thoroughly enjoyed today and look forward to future adventures.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Mississippi Hot!

Today marked the first killer hot day of the summer. The temperature was 97 degrees with a real temperature reading (based on humidity, etc...) of 106. Tomorrow is supposed to be worse with 98 degree temperatures. Up until now it has beautiful weather here in Omaha with warm sunny days. I just came in from a walk (10:30pm) and it was 88 degrees out and humid as heck. It is gross when you work out more of a sweat walking then in the previous day's run.

Tomorrow (Tuesday) marks the official start to our summer ministries where we visit the sick, elderly, etc... My assignment is to visit the elderly at St. Joseph Tower. I am really looking forward to visiting some amazing people twice a week for the next six weeks. I am hoping that I can bring some joy and love to the lives of others and that the residents will do the same for me.


This weekend I enjoyed some time relaxing, sleeping late, going to the movies and hanging out with friends. On Sunday morning I decided to try going to Mass some place different and used www.masstimes.org to find a Catholic Church. After scanning over the choices I decided upon the 9:30am Mass at St. Benedict the Moor parish in the north end of Omaha. The Mass noted that it included a Gospel choir so I knew I would be in for a treat. I grabbed my fellow Manchester seminarian Kyle and I was off. After going a round about route with the GPS we arrived on a small run down block in one of the worst sections of town. From the outside, the Church looked in pretty bad shape. However, I did notice there were a ton of cars lined up along both sides of the street. As we were walking in we also noticed a police car parked out front, which is never a good sign. Not thinking much of it however, we kept going. As we entered the Church we passed several older dignified African-American women with giant hats making there way into the Church at the same time.

As expected we were two of a handful of white people in the place, and stuck out like a soar thumbs. The church was pretty well filled and the choir was beautifully singing in the way only a Gospel choir can. A few moments later the police officer we had previously seen outside, made his way in and went into the sacristy. About five minutes later the deacon came out from the sacristy and announced the start of Mass would be delayed ten minutes. Not sure of what would come next I nervously awaited his explanation. He declared "Mass will be delayed this morning because Father's car was stolen from the parking lot during the previous Mass he celebrated. The police are here to take his report." Immediately I knew that that was not a good sign when the priest's car is stolen from the parking lot during Mass. Good thing I do not own a Toyota Camry, the number choice of car thieves, oh wait....

A few minutes later Mass started and was beautiful. There was a beautiful sense of community amongst all those present, and it truly exemplified the way every parish community should be. The rigidity that sometimes accompanies people attending Masses in New England was gone and instead there was a sense of togetherness. There was a true sense of the joy of Christ all around us. The sign of peace lasted ten minutes and most everyone made there way around the Church to meet and welcome us. During his homily Father preached beautifully about Father's day and the importance of fathers. He also addressed many of the serious challenges facing the African-American community today, and did so in a very direct, but loving manner. I left St. Benedict's refreshed and filled with the Spirit. It was a great morning indeed!

On a side note Father did take the car theft in great stride. He joked, hardly missing a beat, "they did not get much, I feel bad for them. I had a 1992 Oldsmobile with 220,000 miles."

One thing that did strike me was what happened after the final blessing. Everyone sat down and the deacon read the announcements. Then they invited any guests to stand and introduce themselves. After this they had people who wanted to announce birthdays and make announcements stand up and do so. For the next ten minutes people stood up to announce birthdays of family members and those they cared about (in a very prayerful way as most of whom was recognized were not in attendance- aunts, uncles, grand kids, etc..). Other people recognized their fathers (Happy Father's Day dad!), their kids for honor roll, etc.. It was beautiful and solidified my experience all the more. Off to bed it is 12:30am and I know the morning will come early.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Today marks the beginning of the Year of the Priest in the Church. Each year the Church chooses a particular theme to focus on, so that we can grow together in understanding of that particular part of our faith. Last year was the year of St. Paul. This year the Holy Father has asked us to pray and reflect on the priesthood. Being a seminarian I am sure that this will mean many special conferences, reflections and talks. Too bad it will not mean that the Pope will knock a few years off my future studies!

Friday afternoon I finished up a course on the images/attributes of the priesthood. It was taught by two wonderful men who really have a love for what they do and for the Church. The class explored the images of the priest (Shepherd, Spiritual Physician, etc...). It was fascinating and really went a long way in encouraging my personal vocation. One of the things we talked about in great length was what it is that makes a good priest and what does not.

I loved this part because I think so many of us have experienced both. Our teachers were great in that they stressed that people do not expect priests to be perfect, but rather only that they respond with great love, always! I could not agree more. It is amazing how true this is wherever we are. I think most people would recognize that no boss, priest or parent is perfect. Most people are willing to give slack and to forgive. However, when it comes to responding with love and compassion there is no room for compromise. We talked at length about priests who become priests to enjoy the bachelor's life, with no kids, no wife, no responsibilities after the work day is done. We lamented the attitude of some, who see the parish day ending at 5:00pm. How funny it is that some people and priests view life this way, as if they can just shut of the lights, close the door and call it a day. I wonder how many parents would love to do the same. Shut the door, call it a day and pretend the kids don't exist when they are tired or annoying. We discussed how a priest needs to always be ready and must guard against the attitude of- "I can anoint the sick in the morning." Our teacher made a great point- what do you think parents do at 2:00am when the kids are sick, or the baby needs to be fed. He furthered, "your job is to love and to lead, and it never ends, there is no time when you can punch off the clock."

One of our readings said we should list what priests should be and what they should not and that we should go back and review at least once a year. So below is my start (it is 11pm and I am going to bed- so please excuse its simplicity). I welcome and would appreciate your additions. Sometimes it is good to be reminded of what one needs to be. Your suggestions will be added to my list, which will be kept in my breviary( book of psalms/daily prayers). I will carry it with me and use it to remind myself of what is important.

A Priest should be:
- prayerful
- loving
- available
- funny
- faith filled
- energetic
- inviting and always reaching out
- understanding
- compassionate
- always giving from the heart
- humble
-Good Listener

A Priest should not be:
- too busy
- rushed
- judgemental
- a glorified bachelor
- self absorbed
- an ego maniac
- power hungry

Please post your suggestions!

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Every Wednesday night the entire summer program gathers for evening prayer and adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. Last night after we completed evening prayer all 175 of us were in silence as we spent the remaining time in prayer. About ten minutes into my prayer the beautiful silence was broken. At first I did not know what it was. It sound it like a sawing sound. Then it got louder and louder until it was accentuated with gasps for air. My solitude with God was interrupted by a loud snoring sound in the back. (I suddenly had flashbacks to the annual March for Life Trip and wanting to smother a certain colleague of mine with a pillow because I desperately needed sleep and they were so loud I could not sleep at all). However, instead I laughed and used it as a moment of joy. In fact most of the guys treated it as such as they looked around and caught each other's eyes and grins. It was a great moment that reminded us all of our humanity and God's profound sense of humor. In the end the snoring went on for ten minutes or so uninterrupted. This fact makes me think it must of been a retired priest or nun that no one wanted to disturb.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Going Green in Solidarity with Those Who Seek Freedom!

Over the past few days I have been riveted by the reports coming out of Iran. The struggle for freedom is profound, as is the witness of the people. I have noticed that the main stream media is not giving this story the attention it deserves (I am sadly not surprised). The courage of the Iranians young and old is inspiring and they will continue to be in my daily prayers! So for the time being my blog is going green in solidarity with those seeking freedom in a world of repression (green is the official color of the protesters).

Monday, June 15, 2009

Feast of Corpus Christi.

This past Sunday the Church celebrated the Feast of Corpus Christi (Latin for the Body of Christ). To celebrate the feast, two parishes in Omaha sponsored a Eucharistic procession. About twenty of the seminarians and I participated along with about 800 other people. It was a powerful afternoon, praying together as we made our way through the streets. Many of the neighborhoods we travelled through were quite poor, but none-the-less many of the immigrants came out to watch us go by and to pray. During the 1.3 mile procession we stopped twice to offer prayers, and finally reposed the Eucharist at a local parish. The first stop was a beautiful park in the heart of the city. The second was a small park which is at the birthplace of President Gerald Ford. The weather was amazing (note: should have worn sunscreen) and the crowd was equally so. The procession was dominated by young people and split 50/50 between Mexican immigrants and Nebraskans. The entire procession itself was led by about 40 children in their first communion gowns and suits, throwing rose petals over the entire route. When we arrived at the Church the roses showered down from atop the Church. It was a truly amazing site to behold. Originally I was not sure if I was going to attend, but I am very glad that I did. It was a moving experience which I hope to be able to experience again.

Enjoy some photos from Corpus Christi Processions from around the world, including one in NH!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Day Off

Today I decided I would be up for some adventure. After a quick breakfast I hopped in the car, powered up the gps and randomly choose an destination. Not knowing much about Nebraska I decided a beautiful sunny day was the perfect time to do some exploring.

My destination of choice was Nebraska City, Nebraska. My estimation was that you can't be more in Nebraska than Nebraska City, Nebraska. (Incidently it was the first city settled in Nebraska). After an hour's drive south of Omaha I arrived at my mystery location. My first stop was the first thing that caught my eye, the Lewis and Clark Exploration Center.

The center was high on the banks of the Missouri River

Lewis and Clark had stopped somewhere near where the city currently stands. The museum itself was free (sweet) and well organized and presented. It was interesting to read about Lewis and Clark's long journey, see the sights they encountered, as well as to see replica's of their boat,camp and party. I was particularlyimpressed by the fact that Lewis and Clark, as well as most historians, believe that they would not have made it were it not for their 150pound New Foundland Retriever.

According the museum, the dog would jump in the water and catch squirrels and small animals as well as retrieve deer that were shot along the water. The dog was apparently so big that it was useful in scaring away grizzly bears (I think most other types of dogs would have been appetizers!). How incredible to think that man's best freind could play such and important part, always keeping watch and being forever loyal. It was pretty amazing stuff.

After my visit to the Lewis and Clark Center was over I made my way to a Mexican Restaurant for lunch and then to the Mayhew Cabin. (Nebraska has a very large Mexican population, who would have ever guessed). The Mayhew cabin is the oldest cabin in Nebraska (1850) and was an important stop on the underground railroad.

When I arrived at this small historical site, in the middle of a neighborhood, it was abandoned. The weird part is that the front door to the museum was wide open, but not a sole in sight, in fact I was the only car in the parking lot. I let myself in and looked around and found it to be interesting but sparse. The most interesting part was found in the basement of the cabin where there was a tunnel built from the house to a nearby ravine/creek bed. The tunnel was used to smuggle slaves in the underground railroad. The slaves were kept in the basement and in rooms dug out along the tunnel. The Mayhews, who were staunch allies of abolitionist John Brown, would supply food and shelter for the runaways on the long journey. Going through the tunnel was a little nerve racking as it was old, many of the lights were out, and I was convinced I was going to be attacked by rats, poisonous snakes, a crazy man with a shovel, or it die in a collapse. Lest I remind everyone that I am touring an abandoned museum, in a basement, going through a long underground tunnel, to God know's where.

After quickly exiting the tunnel I toured the remainder of the grounds which included a firehouse, old church, 1920's house, candy store and several other buildings. I am not quite sure what these buildings had to do with anything. The entire place was quite strange. Never-the-less by the time I made my way to the exit a mysterious woman appeared. I quickly gave her the $3.00 admission and exited the twilight zone as soon as I could.

After that adventure it was a scenic ride back and a lazy afternoon in Omaha.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Cool Story for a Quiet Day

I was trying to decide what to post for tonight's blog and I happened upon an article that was in the last issue of our St. Mary's Seminary newspaper (which I am the editor of). It is a story about a wonderful woman who works in cafeteria. Enjoy!

Helena Terry—Forty Years of Service

"O Lord, my heart is not proud / nor haughty my eyes. / I have not gone after things too great / nor marvels beyond me." This verse from Psalm 131 evokes the humility of the demure Helena Terry, who for the past forty years has worked in the refectory serving seminarians, faculty and staff food she has helped prepare. Currently working Mondays through Thursdays from 5:30 AM to 1:30 PM, this self-proclaimed “Plain Jane” first started working at St. Mary’s Seminary in 1969, when a friend of her mother’s mentioned that the seminary was looking for extra staff help. “At that time, I wasn’t working, wasn’t looking for work really. So, I said maybe I’ll give her a call.” The manager suggested she come that evening to work a two hour shift. The decision turned out to be providential, as the manager offered her full-time day shift work by the end of that initial shift. It was a proposal she gratefully accepted, “because see, my daughter at that time was ten years old.” Working days allowed her free time in the evening to spend with her fifth-grade daughter, her youngest of four children. Her daughter is now retired from the Air Force.
Initially, Helena worked in the refectory amongst the seminarians and faculty, serving meals, clearing dishes and cleaning tables. “But I was always going back helping out in the kitchen, helping the nuns” [Sisters of the Divine Providence], a part of her job that she treasures the most. When her predecessor left, Helena moved into her position and worked thereafter in the kitchen with the Sisters. Sr. Mary Martha was her particular favorite because of her charity and kindness. She always made Helena feel like she was part of the St. Mary’s family. Today, Helena continues to be an essential part of that family, even in the simplest of tasks, such as making soups, her favorite responsibility.
From the onset of her work, Helena quickly realized that St. Mary’s Seminary was the perfect fit for her. After four decades of service, she feels the same. “When I first walked in everybody was so friendly, you know nice and friendly… happy…and Christian-like. Everybody cared about everybody else’s feelings. And I really liked it. I think that’s why I stay…I think God led me here.” When asked why, she replies simply, as a saint would. “I think, because if not, I wouldn’t have been here as long as I’ve been. And I don’t think it’s anything that I’ve done, the reason I’m here. I think it’s God’s will that I’m here this long.”
Throughout her tenure, Helena has witnessed a remarkable range of St. Mary’s history. She has witnessed the sartorial modifications of the Sisters of the Divine Providence, the change from required clerics for seminarians to laissez-faire casual, the departure of the nuns in the 70’s, the decrease in seminarians from 350 to 70, a renovated kitchen (which used to be twice the size and included its own bakery and ice cream maker), a library addition and the building of the Center. Her favorite event on campus was the visit of His Holiness Blessed John Paul II, who concluded his 1995 tour of the Archdiocese of Baltimore with silent prayer in the Chapel of the Presentation. “I was right outside. I was almost close enough to touch him, …I was just so excited. I was still excited when I got home.”
Whereas most people, after forty years of service, might choose to cross over to the promised land of retirement, Helena finds her work still fulfilling. Though she had thought about retiring at age 65, “the tables turned. I had no reason [to retire]. I enjoy working here. I enjoy the atmosphere. I enjoy being around the students because when I’m not here actually with them, it’s like I’m lonesome, because you see, I had three boys.” The seminarians are like sons to her. Like any good mother, Helena “always wanted to be in the background helping out,” so these “sons” could focus on the challenges of seminary life and formation.
This deference carries over into other areas of her life. Wednesday afternoons for the past three years have found her at the mission at Mt Pigah CME [Christian Methodist Episcopal], her home worship community for over fifty years. Born and raised in Baltimore, Helena recognizes a duty to contribute to social justice issues in her local community. “We have a bag lunch program [for the homeless], and I work with that on Wednesday evenings.” The program serves from seventy to one hundred twenty-five people every week, depending on the weather. Currently, she volunteers with four others, including her daughter, one of her sons. She is dedicated to the program, even prioritizing it over her birthday this year. She also helps set up and clean up for the once a month communion Sunday at Mt Pigah.
Whether it’s serving seminarians, the homeless, or her fellow Methodists, Helena lives the Christian ideal of decreasing so Jesus may increase. Her approach to life evokes the spirituality of St. Therese of Lisieux. When asked if she knew the Little Flower, who didn’t want to be noticed in her lifetime, who wanted to do everything for God’s Will and God’s glory but who didn’t want any of the attention that went along with it, she replied, “No, but that’s me, that’s me exactly.” This rose of a woman, then, is the little flower of Saint Mary’s.

kudos to seminarian Brian Lewis from Delaware who put the story together.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

# 10,000

We did it! Thanks to your loyal readership and support the blog will officially hit 10,000 visitors today! If you scroll to the counter on the bottom and discover you are the 10,000th visitor, drop me an email as I will send you a special present to celebrate this milestone. It is hard to believe the blog is coming up on its first anniversary in August. What a year it has been!

In honor of this milestone I would like to invite you to post your comments (click on comments- you don't need to register to leave comments- just click on anonymous) on what you would like to see and hear about for upcoming blog postings. I have had a free spirited approach as of what to discuss and welcome your input and insights!

Thanks for your Support and Readership!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Toto where are you?

After two full weeks in Omaha we officially under our first Tornado watch of the summer. The good news, I am told, is that the spring is the real tornado season and the summer is the quiet time.

It is quite amazing how differently Midwesterners interpret "tornado watches." Here no one seems to be particularly concerned about them. I think the natives figure it is better to watch the sky and then decide. Back home I think everyone would be watching the sky, the news, listening to the radio and still be nervous. I will never forget my first experience of a Tornado Warning when I was visiting a good friend in Milwaukee. The neighborhood sirens were ringing and my friend, his family and I retreated to the basement for cover. After the dog bit someone, and there was some family commotion, we noticed that his dad was missing. A few skips bounds up the step we discovered his dad smiling away cooking bratwurst on the grill. "You can't waste a good bratwurst," he said. How funny people are indeed.

I will be sleeping a little lighter than usual tonight as the watch has been extended to 5am. Here is to hoping I don't get blown away.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Retreat Ends, Grades Come In

The retreat ended this morning with no major developments. As you can imagine all of us were eager to talk, to enjoy the day and get back into the rythm of things. After Mass I made my way to my mailbox for the first time in a week and found two wonderful suprises, a letter from a New Hampshire Catholic wishing me well on the retreat and my grades.

Semester 2

Metaphysics: Being and God (Philosophy) - B
History of Philosophy II - B+
Media, Rhetoric and Communication- B+ (I was robbed!)
Prayer/Priesthood- A-
Intro to Catholic Theology II- A

Friday, June 5, 2009


Last night I went to the Church on campus to spend an hour in quiet prayer. About ten minutes into my prayer the silence was shattered. My eyes were closed when suddenly I heard a loud racket coming from the front of the Church. The noise continued to get louder and more and more ridiculous. Finally the noise was joined by a loud voice. You know the type I am talking about, the kind of voice where someone is so obnoxiously loud that you want to strangle them.

Since my heavenly bliss was shattered I decided I mine as well see what all the comotion was about. To my horror it was not a staggering homeless man, a wild child, but rather a part of the parish's Campus Ministry staff setting up for a wedding rehearsal. The woman was in her forties and was quite passive aggressive. As time went on she made more and more noise to the point where it was clear that she was being intentional. At first it made me very mad inside, so much so that I wanted to have a few words with her. I realize that sometimes noise is necessary and that certainly is understandable, but so is discrecion and the need to be reverant when in a Church (full or empty).

Following the incessant noise of the "setup," the woman met with the wedding participants for awhile. What struck me the most was that during the initial fifteen minute meeting with the bride and groom alone, there was no mention of God, nor the sacrament or marriage itself. In the midst of the craziness the woman had forgotten the very reason for being where she was. She was so busy doing God's work that she had forgotten to include Him. It was sad and quite upsetting to witness. However, in the end I was lucky to witness what I did and to be reminded by God that no matter how busy one is in life, one must never put God's work before God Himself. It is amazing how often I fallen into this trap. It is like the parent who runs around like a madman because they love their kids and want the best for them, yet they forget to say they love them, to show affection and spend time with them.

As the retreat ends tomorrow morning, I will be using the afternoon/evening to enjoy the stillness. I will embark on no major readings and no prayerful insights. Instead I will relax and take it in and pray for the grace to work the blessings of the past week into my life on a daily basis.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Look Into My Heart & Journal

I approach today's blog posting with some hesitance. I have always wanted to make this blog a real blog, a true and honest depiction of my journey through seminary life. In wanting to keep true to this desire I will share with you my experience today (which is incredibly personal to me). It is simply an excerpt from my journal. There is no editing (some of you will say that is different how?- to that I say better to write from the heart!), only the free flowing thoughts from my prayer. It is unedited and presented as written, run-ons and all. Please excuse its simplicity, and instead see the depths from which it flows.

"I have found for the first time in my life that there is an inexpressable joy that transcends human understanding, which can only be found in prayer. For thirty years I have known God, but until this week the beauty and depth of this has escaped me.

The hardest part of this week has not been the silence, but rather the joy that wells up inside, a joy for which I can share with no one, for I am silent. My heart sings to the Glory of God and only He can hear its melody, only He hears its words."

The Silence is broken*

Today for a brief period the silence and rhythm of our retreat was broken! Well, actually it was more the rhythm of the retreat that was broken, as we did not get to talk. Never-the-less it was announced this morning that Bishop George Lucas (gotta love the name), bishop of Springfield, Illinois, was named Archbishop of Omaha. Following a press conference earlier the Archbishop designee made a several stops around the diocese, including I.P.F. (the program I am in for the summer). The Archbishop designee came and spoke with us for a few minutes, led prayer, and gave his blessing. Following the blessing he made his way to the sacristy where he met with his seminarians from Springfield as well as his future seminarians and priests from Omaha. It was quite exciting to be one of his first stops. I will also admit it was also quite nice to have a break to the day. The silence is wonderful, peaceful and prayerful, but one also faces "noise withdrawal." I have noticed everyone is singing louder at Mass each day. I am convinced it is just an excuse to use their voices.

According to a rival blog "whispers in the loggia," Bishop Lucas at 60 is "sweet" and "a delight." His embracement of technology and podcasting, as well as early reviews seem to be a good sign.

*note: by "rival blog" I mean it in the most general sense. I also consider myself a tennis rival of Andy Roddick, and a modeling rival of...actually no one. Of course I will admit that "whispers" gets about 2-3 million more hits a year than I do, but who is keeping track. I am gaining on him!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Well, I have officially lost track of what day it is (I am not kidding at all). Since we are asked to refrain from looking at our emails, reading the paper, listening to the radio, etc... I have completely lost track of time, which in the end I suppose is a good thing.

On another note, I am actually rather enjoying the retreat thus far, and am getting a lot out of my personal prayer. I dare say my prayer life is transforming before my eyes and the difference is overwhelming. The best example I can offer is that I just spent over 2 1/2 hours in prayer. Anyone who knows me well, knows it is impossible to keep in one place for five minute let alone an hour. God works in strange ways indeed.

Day Four

Two things are worthy of note on this fourth day of the retreat:

On the human level I have noticed there have been a lot of tours coming through the campus of Creighton. Eager families considering all their options are surely surprised by what they see. Hundreds of silent men, praying in the Church, on the grounds, by the fountains, etc... I am not sure what they must think as we move about like silent robots from place to place. Just today a group came in the cafeteria with a mighty look of shock on their face when they saw 175 people all eating by themselves. I hope their tour guides knew what was happening. Parents must have been either horrified by the anti-social nature of the "students," or amazed by the holiness of the place. Either way it is a funny scene to watch.

On the prayerful level the fourth day preceded much as the third. As time progresses my prayer continues to grow. Some of it, as always, is subject to the distractions of the human mind and world. However, this evening, much as the evening before, I was blessed to have an hour of great clarity in prayer. It was truly a beautiful thing. So beautiful that I choose to post this morning rather than last night so that I could go to sleep savoring the moment.

Trust in God
Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you;
All things pass:
God never changes.
Patience achieves
all it strives for.
He who has God
finds he lacks nothing.
God alone suffices.
- Teresa of Avila

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Please note this blog will begin being regularly updated after August 21st (when I arrive in Baltimore).