Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Little Fun

This semester I decided to decorate my room a little more and liven things up a bit. One of the things I brought with me was a metal dog that I used to keep in my Campus Ministry office. I decided to put in the hallway outside my room as a decoration of sorts. Well soon after doing that he kept disappearing and reappearing in different places and doing different things. It has been hilarious to watch and great to participate in. One morning he will be in my room, the next he will end up messing with someone's trash, on their computer, or watching animal planet in the lounge. Having the dog has helped to build community on our hallway as we journey together and watch the story line of a little metal dog unfold.

Fetching a copy of Ora et Labora, the House Newspaper

Getting Ready to Start the Day

Eating the frame of my door

Dinner time

Super Bowl Ad

Joseph Lawler over at the American Spectator has a wonderful blog posting about the upcoming Superbowl ad controversy involving football star and quarterback Tim Tebow. Tim will be featured in an advertisement featuring his mother's decision to choose life. It is crazy that such an add creates such a stir. It is crazy that choosing life is "too controversial" to talk about, yet everything else on television is perfectly acceptable.

Tim Tebow's Super Bowl Commercial
By Joseph Lawler on 1.20.10 @ 1:07PM

Focus on the Family has succeeded in purchasing a 30-second ad for the Super Bowl broadcast that will feature Tim Tebow and his mother Pam Tebow recounting her pregnancy with him in a pro-life inspirational message.

Tim Tebow, of course, just finished his career as a quarterback for the Florida Gators, a career in which he won two national titles and became the first sophomore to win the Heisman trophy. He is an outspoken Christian known for wearing bible verses on his eyeblack, a former homeschooler, and a missionary during summers. When pregnant with him in 1987, Pam got sick during a missionary trip to the Philippines, and suffered a placental abruption. Her doctor, thinking that the baby would be stillborn, recommended that she have an abortion to protect her own health. Obviously she disregarded that recommendation, and today Tim is 6'3", 240 lbs.

Pro-life groups like Focus on the Family have been trying to get ads in major broadcasts like the Super Bowl and the American Idol finale for a long time. For instance, CatholicVote unsuccessfully attempted to get a similar video about Barack Obama's mother's decision to raise him into the 2009 Super Bowl.

It's hard to overstate Tebow's stature in the college football world, but one indication is that, according to the Davie-Brown Index, he is already more marketable than any NFL quarterback other than Peyton Manning. To have such a popular and universally liked star promoting their pro-life message is a major win for Focus on the Family, assuming that NBC CBS follows through and actually airs the ad on Feb. 7th.

The pro-choice camp never wanted to see NBC allow any message like this to air on such a huge TV event, understanding that such a story can't help but lend emotional tones to the pro-life message. Don't be surprised to see pro-choicers suddenly worried that Tebow is destroying his commercial appeal with a divisive ad (i.e. showing character) or even grumbling that Pam Tebow's decision not to abort Tim was based in "invalid" logic (really).

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A New Seminarian

Jeff Fletcher over at
Major League Baseball Fanhouse
has a interesting article up this week on a pro baseball player who is giving up his career to study for the priesthood.

The A's have been desperate for power in the lineup, and now they are losing one of their top power prospects ... who is apparently going to follow a higher power.

Grant Desme, who hit 31 homers in 2009 in Class-A, is retiring from baseball, and he plans to pursue a life in the priesthood.

"Last year before the season I really had a strong feeling of a calling and real strong desire to follow it," Desme said. "I just fought it. As an excuse I went into this year as a test, to see, just hoping and praying about it. As the year went on, God blessed me, and I had a better year than I could have imagined, but that reconfirmed my desire because I wasn't at peace with where I was at."
Desme, 23, rocketed up the A's organizational depth chart. On the heels of an MVP award in the prospect-laden Arizona Fall League, Desme was named the No. 8 prospect in the A's system by Baseball America.

"Every time I saw the guy he was hitting the ball off the wall or over it," a scout who saw Desme in the Arizona Fall League told FanHouse. "He was a good hitter. He'd have been a major leaguer for sure."

The scout went on to say that Desme had the talent to be an "occasional All-Star."

Still, when Desme played his final game in Arizona, he said he knew that his future was not in baseball. He applied to a seminary in Southern California, and he was accepted this month. Desme told A's general manager Billy Beane of his decision on Thursday.

"I was interested to see how I'd react, knowing that when I was done with the call, I'd be done with baseball for the rest of my life, and I experienced a great amount of peace," Desme said. "It reconfirmed my decision."

Desme said the A's were surprised, but supportive.

Desme obviously did not come upon this decision quickly. He said he grew up Catholic, with a strong religious background. A 2005 letter he wrote to the Daily Mustang, the student paper at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, illustrates the point.

Desme said the seeds of this decision were sown in 2008, when he missed much of the season with an injury. A lifelong Catholic who grew up with a strong religious background, Desme said the injuries "were the biggest blessing God has ever given me. Baseball has always been my life, defined me... When baseball was taken away from me, it was a shock. I did some soul-searching of who I was and who I wanted to be, and this is where it's led me."

Although someone on this track might seem to be out of place among a bunch of minor league baseball players, Desme said he actually enjoyed the chance to help influence his teammates.

"Whenever I was able to talk to someone about God, or help someone, that made coming to the ballpark more enjoyable," he said. "I looked forward to that."

Now, Desme faces what he said is a 10-year path to becoming a priest.

"It's like I'm re-entering the minor leagues."

Sunday, January 24, 2010

March for Life Part II

This year's March for Life was amazing. I left the seminary at 6:00am to head to Washington, D.C. to meet up with Pilgrims from NH for a 8:00am Mass. As Mass started there were about 200 hearty NH folks in attendance at St. Joe's on Capitol Hill. Halfway through Mass I looked to my right and lo and behold two of my greatest students appeared at my side, as another 100 NH natives filled the Church after an all night bus ride.

After Mass I tagged along with a group from Trinity (Team Hi-Def) and we grabbed breakfast and did some sightseeing.

Along the way to grab breakfast we ran into a wonderful woman who worked in D.C. at one of the federal office buildings. We had asked her for a good place to eat, and she could not have been more helpful. She was excited to see us and told us how she was going to punch out early to do some "errands" so that she could join us. She said that her office is really liberal and that they would give her a real hard time if they knew what she was up to, but that she did not care. It was really refreshing to see that there was someone who was proud to see us come to D.C. and stand up for life.

After our morning adventure was over we made it back to the National mall where we waited for the March to start. At about 2:00pm the March started. I began walking with Trinity students and quickly fell behind and instead walked with a group of parishioners from Saint Anthony of Padua Parish in Manchester and Fathers Rick Dion, Ray Labrie & Richard Kelley. It was nice to catch up with them all and to march with their congregations.

After the March I ended I decided to make my way into the Senate and House office buildings to share my thoughts with my elected officials. The lines to get in were easily 150 people long. I knew a couple of side entrances and made my first visit to Senator Jeanne Shaheen's office. Once I arrived I shared my request that the Senator vote to prevent federal funding of abortion in all health care legislation. I will not lie to you the staff was about as unfriendly as they come. They barely looked up to take my comments and certainly were not happy to have a NH resident visiting. The only exception to that was two cheerful interns that helped me find my way to Senator's Gregg's office, my next destination. The unhelpful office staff of Senator Shaheen could take a few pointers from the interns who seemed happy to help a NH voter.

After stopping by Senator Gregg's office I was next off to the office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter, who represents New Hampshire's first district. On the way there I bumped into a group of Trinity students and a good friend of mine, Mr. Sheehan. I invited them to come along and they eagerly followed, excited to share there thoughts. Once inside the office the staff warmly welcomed us and invited us in, giving us a tour and all. The kids and I wrote letters to the Congresswoman asking her to vote pro life and left them at the front office. Once inside one of the staff members invited the kids to see the Congresswoman's office, which they were excited to tour. After a brief tour the staffer opened the floor up to questions. I quickly drilled him on the Congresswoman's votes and explained why Human Dignity is so important to us as Catholics, why abortion matters, and expressed my disappointment in the congresswoman's voting record! The staff was great and deserves credit for being welcoming and for representing the state well. One awkward moment did occur when one of the students asked how many staffers were from NH. The response was none, except for one gentleman who said he was "recently from NH."

After a quick dinner it was back to the Seminary where I collapsed in my bed and have been recovering ever since. .

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Slow Start to the Year

I am not sure what the reason is but this semester is off to a slow start. My classes seem like the will be good, but the workload looks awful hard. Sometimes the workloads line up perfectly and other times they don't. It seems like this semester will be a perfect storm, and not a good one. I know I will get there and that it won't seem have bad the further I get in. In the meantime it is all grindstone.

This week the seminary is abuzz with activity. We enjoyed a wonderful three day weekend and are enjoying a short week as a result. Tomorrow night many of us will head to the National Shrine in Washington, D.C. for the Vigil for Life Mass. For seminarians it is always exciting because over 450 of us are in the procession for Mass, plus 250 Deacons, 800+ priests and 150+ Bishops and Cardinals. Last year only six of us from the seminary went. This year I think we will have over 25 going. I spent much of tonight lobbying the new guys to try and convince them to go (I was successful!).

Friday promises to busy as well as we descend on Washington for the annual March for Life. This year i will be going to an early morning Mass, 8:00am with Trinity Students and some NH pilgrims, priests and the Bishop. I am hoping to be able to spend the day with the Trinity group before retiring to the seminary for a long night's sleep. I am a little worried that the weather is not looking great, but then again that is have the adventure.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Our Vocation not to be a Seminarian

An interesting article written by a good friend Jason on seminary life.

A wise man once told me before I entered seminary that I should always remember that my vocation is not to be a seminarian, but to be a priest. He said that if I ever confused the two my vocation would certainly be in danger. When this man first shared with me this piece of wisdom I thought it was a riddle. This riddle receded into the back of my memory as I entered my first year of seminary only waiting for it to be solved at some unknown point in time in my seminary experience.
With ordination five or six years away it is easy to disconnect our formational activities from priestly life. Often times, we can focus too much of our attention on the activities themselves while losing sight of what they are preparing us for. When we begin to separate seminary activities from priestly life, seminary life can easily become unsatisfyingly monotonous and mundane. This fatal separation strips our seminary activities of any sense of real purpose or meaning. It would be like going to medical school without the intention to become a doctor.
If a medical student never connected their studies to what they would be doing as a doctor there would be a couple of consequences. The first is that the material being learned would seem horribly abstract, having no real connection to everyday matters as a doctor. Another consequence is that the material would never come alive for the student and would never confront the student as to whether or not the profession of doctor would be a proper fit. In the same way, if we disconnect the material and the skills we are learning in seminary from priestly life, this material and these skills will become horribly abstract and purposeless. We will find no real connection to our daily efforts in the here-and-now to what we are called to be as a priest.
If you are experiencing this strong sense of purposelessness in daily seminary activities or if you have become a (somewhat agitating) professional seminarian I offer you this word of warning: your vocation is to be a priest, not a seminarian. We must make the effort before we ever sit down to read an assignment, before we ever try to write a painstaking paper, before we ever sit down for a rector’s conference, before we ever approach the Lord in prayer, that we are called to be priests; priests who serve the people of God first and foremost. We must always remember them, the people we are called to serve. For if you lose sight of those whom we are called to serve our daily activities in the here-and-now can easily lose its noble character, they can easily become selfish and solipsistic. If we do not constantly remind ourselves of those who are waiting for our future ministry, we will find ourselves living out a selfish existence off of very the funds of those who have placed their future hopes in us.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Welcome Back!

After a wonderful morning with my parents I made my way to Boston to fly back to the seminary for the start of the second semester. After being picked up at the airport by a good friend I made my way to the seminary and caught up with the guys, unpacked my things and picked up my grades and schedule for the new year. I was very pleased with my grades, although a little embaressed that I only got an A- on the very subject I taught for five years, the Pentateuch. Oh well, guess it is a good lesson in humility. I am worried about the new semester and some challenging professors who enter into the equation, including one who assigns mountains of reading for each class and another who seemingly has the entire Bible memorized. Needless to say the standards being set in the classroom this semester will be high, real high. Here is to hoping I got my A game on.

Grades from Last Semester:

Ancient & Medieval Christianity - A

Fundamental Theology - A

Theological Anthropology - A-

Pentateuch- A-

Introduction to Liturgy- A-

New Classes:

Modern and Contemporary Catholicism
(Mondays/Thursdays- 8:30-9:45am)

Foundations in Moral Theology
(Tuesdays/Fridays- 9:55-11:10am)

Spirituality and Practice
(Mondays/Thursdays- 1:30-2:45pm)

Doctrine of God
(Tuesdays/Fridays- 3:00-4:15pm)

Synoptic Gospels
(Mondays/Thursdays- 9:55-11:10am)
Off to the Airport. Headed back to the seminary today. New Post tonight. Thanks for being patient while I was offline for a short vacation.

Important Blog News:

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