Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

This weekend the Seminary kept with tradition and held its annual Halloween Party. As one of the House Infirmarians I decided to have a little fun with my costume. Since the outbreak of the Swine Flu last spring things hear have gotten a little crazy. We have purell dispensers every ten feet it seems and are constantly being reminded to use hand sanitizer. So after some consultation the other infirmarian and myself decided to go as the Swine Flu and Purell. With a little creative ingenuity we were able to pull it off. I had to rummage for boxes at Lowes, inhale way too much spray paint and spend hours stuck standing up in a box. In the end it was worth it as it brought great joy to the party.

The House Halloween Party was held in the Seminary Lounge. It included lots of great refreshments and most all of the seminarians and faculty. Of course being Halloween themed we had lots of fun decorations on the walls and fog machines as well. The pumpkin carving contest tested the artistic sides of many and the apple bobbing the athletic prowess. Although I did find it quite ironic that we purell every ten seconds, yet apple bob, but I digress. In the end it was a great chance to kick back and take a much needed break from exams, papers and class...

Another Form of Prejudice

Below you will find a column from New York Archbishop Dolan's blog. It is a fantastic piece about a subject that is often ignored, but certainly very real.

The following article was submitted in a slightly shorter form to the New York Times as an op-ed article. The Times declined to publish it. I thought you might be interested in reading it.

By Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan
Archbishop of New York

October is the month we relish the highpoint of our national pastime, especially when one of our own New York teams is in the World Series!

Sadly, America has another national pastime, this one not pleasant at all: anti-catholicism.

It is not hyperbole to call prejudice against the Catholic Church a national pastime. Scholars such as Arthur Schlesinger Sr. referred to it as “the deepest bias in the history of the American people,” while John Higham described it as “the most luxuriant, tenacious tradition of paranoiac agitation in American history.” “The anti-semitism of the left,” is how Paul Viereck reads it, and Professor Philip Jenkins sub-titles his book on the topic “the last acceptable prejudice.”

If you want recent evidence of this unfairness against the Catholic Church, look no further than a few of these following examples of occurrences over the last couple weeks:

On October 14, in the pages of the New York Times, reporter Paul Vitello exposed the sad extent of child sexual abuse in Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish community. According to the article, there were forty cases of such abuse in this tiny community last year alone. Yet the Times did not demand what it has called for incessantly when addressing the same kind of abuse by a tiny minority of priests: release of names of abusers, rollback of statute of limitations, external investigations, release of all records, and total transparency. Instead, an attorney is quoted urging law enforcement officials to recognize “religious sensitivities,” and no criticism was offered of the DA’s office for allowing Orthodox rabbis to settle these cases “internally.” Given the Catholic Church’s own recent horrible experience, I am hardly in any position to criticize our Orthodox Jewish neighbors, and have no wish to do so . . . but I can criticize this kind of “selective outrage.”
Of course, this selective outrage probably should not surprise us at all, as we have seen many other examples of the phenomenon in recent years when it comes to the issue of sexual abuse. To cite but two: In 2004, Professor Carol Shakeshaft documented the wide-spread problem of sexual abuse of minors in our nation’s public schools (the study can be found here). In 2007, the Associated Press issued a series of investigative reports that also showed the numerous examples of sexual abuse by educators against public school students. Both the Shakeshaft study and the AP reports were essentially ignored, as papers such as the New York Times only seem to have priests in their crosshairs.

On October 16, Laurie Goodstein of the Times offered a front page, above-the-fold story on the sad episode of a Franciscan priest who had fathered a child. Even taking into account that the relationship with the mother was consensual and between two adults, and that the Franciscans have attempted to deal justly with the errant priest’s responsibilities to his son, this action is still sinful, scandalous, and indefensible. However, one still has to wonder why a quarter-century old story of a sin by a priest is now suddenly more pressing and newsworthy than the war in Afghanistan, health care, and starvation–genocide in Sudan. No other cleric from religions other than Catholic ever seems to merit such attention.
Five days later, October 21, the Times gave its major headline to the decision by the Vatican to welcome Anglicans who had requested union with Rome. Fair enough. Unfair, though, was the article’s observation that the Holy See lured and bid for the Anglicans. Of course, the reality is simply that for years thousands of Anglicans have been asking Rome to be accepted into the Catholic Church with a special sensitivity for their own tradition. As Cardinal Walter Kasper, the Vatican’s chief ecumenist, observed, “We are not fishing in the Anglican pond.” Not enough for the Times; for them, this was another case of the conniving Vatican luring and bidding unsuspecting, good people, greedily capitalizing on the current internal tensions in Anglicanism.
Finally, the most combustible example of all came Sunday with an intemperate and scurrilous piece by Maureen Dowd on the opinion pages of the Times. In a diatribe that rightly never would have passed muster with the editors had it so criticized an Islamic, Jewish, or African-American religious issue, she digs deep into the nativist handbook to use every anti-Catholic caricature possible, from the Inquisition to the Holocaust, condoms, obsession with sex, pedophile priests, and oppression of women, all the while slashing Pope Benedict XVI for his shoes, his forced conscription -- along with every other German teenage boy -- into the German army, his outreach to former Catholics, and his recent welcome to Anglicans.
True enough, the matter that triggered her spasm -- the current visitation of women religious by Vatican representatives -- is well-worth discussing, and hardly exempt from legitimate questioning. But her prejudice, while maybe appropriate for the Know-Nothing newspaper of the 1850’s, the Menace, has no place in a major publication today.

I do not mean to suggest that anti-catholicism is confined to the pages New York Times. Unfortunately, abundant examples can be found in many different venues. I will not even begin to try and list the many cases of anti-catholicism in the so-called entertainment media, as they are so prevalent they sometimes seem almost routine and obligatory. Elsewhere, last week, Representative Patrick Kennedy made some incredibly inaccurate and uncalled-for remarks concerning the Catholic bishops, as mentioned in this blog on Monday. Also, the New York State Legislature has levied a special payroll tax to help the Metropolitan Transportation Authority fund its deficit. This legislation calls for the public schools to be reimbursed the cost of the tax; Catholic schools, and other private schools, will not receive the reimbursement, costing each of the schools thousands – in some cases tens of thousands – of dollars, money that the parents and schools can hardly afford. (Nor can the archdiocese, which already underwrites the schools by $30 million annually.) Is it not an issue of basic fairness for ALL school-children and their parents to be treated equally?

The Catholic Church is not above criticism. We Catholics do a fair amount of it ourselves. We welcome and expect it. All we ask is that such critique be fair, rational, and accurate, what we would expect for anybody. The suspicion and bias against the Church is a national pastime that should be “rained out” for good.

I guess my own background in American history should caution me not to hold my breath.

Then again, yesterday was the Feast of Saint Jude, the patron saint of impossible causes.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Almost Halloween

As I am limping my way to the end of the week I figured I would post something fun to usher in the weekend. At the seminary we are gearing up for our annual Halloween party. It includes a pumpkin carving contest, pool tournament, poker tournament and lots of good food. I have a brilliant idea for a costume which I cannot post here until tomorrow night, lest one of my brother seminarians find out. I am excited it is pretty sweet. Here is to hoping I can pull it off and create it in time. In the mean time enjoy the following ten reasons why Dogs hate Halloween (courtesy of an email I was sent). . .

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Bad Combo

In priestly formation there are two major portions of classes, Philosophy and Theology. Luckily I was only required to do one year of Philosophy instead the usual two. Beginning Theology classes and entering the Theology program is considered an important milestone in priestly formation. At St. Mary's as at most seminaries this change is marked by the requirement of having to wear clerics to class each day. Not having worn much black before I am discovering many small practical things which can be challenging. On the base level it is much easier wearing the exact same thing every day. I never thought I would like it but wearing a "uniform" is easy. However, being the person I am I have discovered quickly that black is not always the best for a person like me. Case in point this morning I moved a nice grey wool fuzzy blanket in my room. I am no covered if fuzzy lint and I cannot get it off. AHHHHHHHHH. Unfortunately I am off to Mass, then to a parish meeting (I am assigned to one for the year) and then back to a boring meeting for accreditation and then homework. . .

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Check this out!

I am working on a paper and came across some fascinating (and simple) statistical data on Catholicism in America. Click here and scroll to the bottom of the page. I promise you will find it interesting. Let me know what you think.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fall Break

Today marked the official start of our seminary fall break. This morning we had an alumni day Mass which featured about 150 visitors from the seminary's past. After a post-Mass social where I was in charge of the bar, it was off to a fancy luncheon with lots of speechs. In the end it was a great day and I particularly enjoyed celebrating those priest who had graduated 50+ years ago. The two oldest priests present had served for over 65 years. I can't begin to imagine what I will look like in sixty five years, God willing.

At the conclusion of the luncheon the rector announced a free weekend, with no classes on friday. We of course applaudled loudly and then made our way to the exits at double time. I will be using my time to catch up, sleep in and perhaps even get ahead.

Right now I am headed to bed early for the first time in a long time.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Delay & A Shout Out!

I had hoped to publish my birthday photos with you all today, however they are currently on the camera of a seminarian who is sick. I have decided to wait to them until he is better.

One of my jobs at the seminary is that of assistant infirmarian. I am in charge of helping to ensure the health of others. Realistically that means that I deliver meals to the sick. This past week business has been brisk, as four seminarians have had colds of various degrees. Generally they have been really good about asking for help and staying in their rooms and away from others. However, one challenge of living in community is when people choose to go to class, prayers and meals, even when they are sick. The house rule is that when you are sick, you must stay in your room. Unfortunately some guys do not abide by it and sneak to classes, etc... The problem comes when they are contagious and spread illness to others. This disregard of the health and safety of others has become a pet peeve of mine, one I remember all to well from the classroom.Luckily most of the guys here have been great. Those who have not are spoken to and "asked" to stay in their rooms. All in all it is a good system which keeps as all healthy. I do wish that I thought enough to invest in purell a few years ago. I would be rich if I did.

On one final note, I just received the newest picture of the new cat my family is getting later this month. I am not a big cat person, but I can't deny this kitten is cute. (this picture is a special shout out to my good friend Priscilla, who has a special place in her heart for all God's creatures, especially cats)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

My Birthday Bash

Saturday I had a great birthday! Thanks to all for the wonderful greetings, cards, emails, care packages! and calls. Monday Night I will post the pictures and story to share with you all.

Something to Think About

Memo from God

Ten Guidelines from God...

* Date: Today
* To: You
* From: God
* Subject: Yourself
* Reference: Your Life

Instructions for following the Ten Guidelines from God
Effective immediately,please be aware that there are some changes YOU need to make in YOUR life.
These changes need to be completed in order that I may fulfill My promises to you to grant you peace, joy and happiness in this life.
I need your full co-operation and I apologize for any inconvenience,but after all that I am doing, this seems very little to ask of you.Thank you.....GOD.
Life has dealt you a blow and all you do is sit and worry.
Have you forgotten that I am here to take all your burdens and carry them for you?
Cast all your anxiety on Me. I care for you. (1 Peter 5:7)
Something needs done or taken care of.
Put it on the list.
No.... not YOUR list!
Put it on MY to-do-list!
Let ME be the one to take care of the problem.
I can't help you until you turn it over to Me.
And although My to-do-list is long, I am after all... God!
I can take care of anything you put into My hands.
. In fact, I take care of a lot of things for you that you never even realize!
For nothing is impossible with God!(Luke 1:37)
Once you've given your burdens to Me,quit trying to take them back!
Trust in Me.
Have faith that I will take care of all your needs, your problems and your trials.
Problems with the kids? Put them on My list.
Problem with finances? Put it on My list.
Problems with your emotional roller coaster? For My sake, put it on My list. I want to help you. All you have to do is ask
. Ask, and it will be given to you.(Matthew 7:7)
Don't wake up one morning and say, "Well, I'm feeling much stronger now, I think I can handle it from here."
Why do you think you are feeling stronger now?
It's simple.
You gave Me your burdens and I'm taking care of them, so don't try to take them back.
I also renew your strength and cover you in my peace.
Don't you know that if I give you these problems back, you will be right back where you started?
Leave them with Me and forget about them.
Trust in Me with all your heart.(Proverbs 3:5)
I want you to forget a lot of things.
Forget what was making you crazy.
Forget all the worry and the fretting
But there's one thing I want you never forget.
Please, don't forget to talk to Me !-- OFTEN!
I love YOU!
I want to hear your voice.
I want you to include Me in the things going on in your life.
I want to hear you talk about your friends and family.
Prayer is simply you having a conversation with Me.
I want to be your dearest friend.
Talk to Me daily!
Pray without ceasing...(1 Thess.5:17)
I see a lot of things from up here that you can't see from where you are.
Have faith in Me that I know what I'm doing.
I am in control of everything, even if it doesn't seem like it sometimes from your viewpoint.
Believe Me, you wouldn't want the view from My eyes.
I will continue to care for you, watch over you,and meet your needs.
You only have to put your faith in Me.
Faith is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see.(Hebrews 11:1)
You were taught to share when you were young..
Don't forget that now, the rule still applies.
Share with those who are less fortunate than you.
Share your joy with those who need encouragement.
Share your laughter with those who haven't heard any in a long time.
Share your tears with those need to cry.
Share your faith with those who have none.
Do good and share with others, for with such sacrifices I am pleased.(Hebrews 13:16)
I managed to fix it so in just one lifetime you could have so many different experiences.
You grow from a child to an adult, have children, change jobs, learn trades,travel to many places, meet thousands of people, and experience so much.
How can you be so impatient then when you think it takes Me a little longer than you expected to handle something on My to-do-list?
Be Patient--Wait on Me.
Trust in My timing, for My timing is perfect.
You may think I am slow, but remember....I am never late.
I have your best interests in mind and know when the time is just right.
Wait on Me; be strong and take heart and wait for Me.(Psalm 27:14)
Be kind to others, for everyone is fighting some sort of battle and I love them just as much as I love you.
They may not dress like you, or talk like you, or live the same way you do, but I still love them.
I love all My creation
Please try to get along, for My sake.
I created each of you different in some way.
It would be too boring if you were all identical.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, I forgave you.(Ephesians 4:32)
As much as I love you, how can you not love yourself?
You were created by me for one reason only -- to be love and to be loved.
I am a God of Love.
Love Me.
Love your neighbors.
But also love yourself.
It makes My heart ache when I see you not loving yourself.
You are very precious to me, don't ever forget that.
I created you to be someone special.
My works are wonderful. I created your inmost being; I knit you together in your mother's womb. You are fearfully and wonderfully made.(Psalm 139:13, 14)

PS:I wrote all of this in a book a long time ago.
It is called the "Bible"
Please try to read it daily.
It will help you to remember all of these things.
I love You...God

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Major Milestone

Recently one of my closest friends celebrated a major milestone in her life, engagement. When she called to share the good news I was overjoyed and excited for the future that lay before her. As soon as I got off the phone I started calling everyone I knew, like a proud brother or parent.

In the midst of our conversation I failed to mention my major news of the day, my milestone. It was not engagement (that might be problematic for the whole priesthood thing). It was exciting, kind of like the all important milestones in life like the first word, first step, first day of school, high school graduation, college graduation, first job, first time on national television in a shark costume, first time being thrown off national television in a shark costume, entering the seminary.

After six years together my 2003 Toyota Camry and I celebrated our 100,000 mile anniversary. Yes, that is right we have been together for the good times (driving 1/2 across the country, up mount Washington, alongside Niagara falls), and the bad times (getting stuck in my old steep drive way in every winter storm, the Trinity speed bump, the speeding ticket, traffic, carrying every imaginable thing under the sun for campus ministry). Six years later here we stand.

In honor of this special moment I invited some of my closest friends in the seminary to our party. After carefully timing my mileage for a week, I timed it so the 100,000 th mile would be in the seminary parking lot. When I got lost going to get the donuts I nearly had a major disaster.

We jumped into my car, did a dunkin donut toast and drove around in circles.

It was a great concept except for the fact that a mile is a really long way to go circling the parking lot.

In the end a good time was had by all.

In case you were wondering 100,000 miles amounts to about 93 days of my life in the same exact seat. (that is basing the average mph at 45, not because I am slow but because most of it is on small, slow, country roads and in traffic :(

If anyone was wondering, YES I would break it off with my car should someone want to get me a new car for my birthday. Sorry sharkmobile.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Good Company

This weekend I had the pleasant surprise of visitors. One of my greatest students of all times was down visiting Johns Hopkins University for a tour. After a long day's drive from NH to Baltimore we met up for dinner in Little Italy. After a wonderful meal we headed to a Baltimore legand, Vacarro's. Vacarro's is home to the world's most amazing desserts. It was pleasant aside from a weekend of work.

Tomorrow at noon I hope to post up some fun pictures from a huge milestone this past week. Stay tuned, sorry for the recent drop on postings. We are back in business!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Some Fun

Below are links to a fun video the guys in the house made for orientation this year. It is filled with a lot of inside jokes but I still think you will get a charge. Because of the size it is in four parts. Enjoy!

Monday, October 5, 2009

A New Adventure

This weekend I was sent to my first parish assignment at Immaculate Conception Parish in Towson. Immaculate Conception or I.C. is a huge parish with an incredibly active community. Each weekend it has 7 masses, each of which is relatively full. The parish also has a 24 hour Eucharistic Adoration chapel, a 571 student elementary school and extensive grounds.

Five of my brother seminarians and myself made our first appearance at the parish this weekend and introduced ourselves at each Mass. The people were incredibly nice and welcoming, although they were not so excited that I was from New England (the Baltimore Ravens played the Pats on Sunday). In fact one of my favorite parts was when a fourth grader folded his arms and gave me a mean death stare because I was a patriots fan. After each Mass we chatted up the parishoners and began to become part of the community. I even had time to help out with the blessing of the animals which brought back many great memories from Trinity. For some reason the blessing of the animals was always one of my favorite nights as a teacher. I think it was because I was able to see what made my students really happy, their pets. There was always such joy at such a night. At Immaculate Conception the mood was much the same. The crowd was mostly dogs and cats, but there were also some fat guinea pigs and hamsters and a scared snake. However, the pet that needed it most, the neighborhood squirrel with a broken tale, did not attend.

Tonight I was at the parish again, but this time it was to help with the R.C.I.A. program (for people coming into the Catholic faith as adults). It was a great night except for when the priest presenting turned to be and asked me a question related to Theology. I ducked. Actually when the entire class turned around to see my answer I ducked down and hoped for the best.

It is crazy to think not long ago I was teaching in front of a classroom and now I am helping out at a parish. (although I should curb my excitement as I still have a long way to go!)

Well off to bed.

Important Blog News:

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