Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Second Step

In the old days the journey to priesthood was marked by a series of steps called minor orders. Each of the minor order was accompanied by certain liturgical functions. The minor orders were distinct from the major orders, as a seminarian could leave the seminary having received minor orders and still get married. However, leaving the seminary after receiving major orders was much more difficult and required dispensation from Rome.

The minor orders began with the Rite of Tonsure in which the seminarians hair was ceremonially cut. Following the rite of Tonsure the seminarian would receive his first minor order, of porter/doorman. Following porter there was lector, exorcist and acolyte. The minor orders themselves were not sacramentals and not part of holy orders. The minor orders were preparation for holy orders. The major orders which followed subdeacon, deacon and priest.

In 1972 the Church suppressed the minor orders and instead choose to confer "ministries". Last year I received the first ministry, lector. This past month I received the ministry of Acolyte. Practically speaking this means that I serve at masses, help prepare the altar, can bring communion to the sick, etc...

Following the end of next year, God willing, I will receive the Rite of Candidacy in which I prepare for ordination to the deaconate and one year later the priesthood.

note: pictures to be posted as soon as the networks speeds up enough that I can download them.
It is hard to believe I am already a year and half in the seminary. It is also crazy to think that there are three and half more years to go.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I am Back! Call me the Godfather!

After an embarrassingly long delay (sorry!) I am back at the seminary. Two Blizzards, One February Vacation, Two Ten Hour Car Trips and Three Papers, later here I stand (actually sit).

This week I have much to catch you up on in the blog, including

1. My Recent Installation as an Acolyte (step on path to priesthood)

2. A Humble Priest and Powerful Witness

3. Exciting Things Happening in the Diocese

4. Oh No I am all set I don't need to practice!

5. Tales of an Ash Wednesday Gone Wrong

6. Sheer Brilliance, Amazing People Making an Amazing Difference

7. Spain for $100

8. The Ancient Order of Hibernians: Take One!

9. Paper, What Paper? Hey where did the book go? Oh no, that's bad real bad!

10. Seminary Madness

Hopefully after a long and rocky start to the blogging year we should finally be up and running again.

Today, however, I would like to dedicate my posting to Miss Erin Elizabeth Flaherty who was welcomed into the world last night. She is an incredibly beautiful baby girl, born to two of my good friends, and SHE WILL BE MY GODDAUGHTER! Being that I am a seminarian and studying for the priesthood and all I cannot have children. Therefore this is the next biggest thing to having a child (having nieces and nephews counts too, but in a different sense). I am excited to be a Godfather, or "the Godfather" and will take my responsibility seriously.

In this day in age I am afraid many people see the role of godparents as ceremonial. The reality is it is not and bears great responsibility. I for one intend to take my role seriously and foster the spiritual care and growth of Erin Elizabeth for a lifetime.

I am excited beyond words and cannot wait for the big day. .

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


We are officially snowed in, again. We are in the process of getting 10-20 more inches of snow with 40 mph winds. Baltimore has closed all roads (except for emergency vehicles)declaring a level III emergency. Life inside the seminary is the same as always, but no classes! I woke up this morning and thought my window had fogged over, it had not. The snow as so thick I could not see out. My car is no longer visible and there are said to be 4 ft snow drifts.

Some interesting quotes from the WJZ news website this morning:

"Our goal here for the next 48 hours is going to be to keep the highways passable for emergency vehicles and also for certain vital commerce that has to go on, including what we hope are resupplied salt trucks that are coming back to our salt dumps," O'Malley said. (O'Malley is the governor)

All the power companies are advising us they do expect widescale power outages tomorrow," Muth said. "They are at full force. They are standing by ready to respond to them."

Some streets remain untouched and the city has only plowed some other secondary streets once.Note: Some streets are still unplowed from the 30 inches of snow on Friday/Saturday!

The Airport has cancelled all flights again. Leaving BWI having been closed From Friday Afternoon-Sunday Afternoon and Tuesday Afternoon- (currently closed through Late Thursday).

Special Weather Statement
Statement as of 11:33 AM EST on February 10, 2010

... Extremely dangerous winter weather conditions continuing this
afternoon for the Baltimore-Washington region... central and western
Maryland... southern Maryland... and the eastern Panhandle of West

Do not attempt to drive this afternoon. Life threatening blizzard
conditions are occurring across the region and will continue through
early evening. The Maryland State Highway administration is urging
all Maryland drivers to stay off the roads due to the extreme
weather conditions. The city of Baltimore has implemented phase iii
of their snow plan... which means that only emergency vehicles are
allowed on the Road.

Wind gusts over 40 mph are occurring throughout the area... coupled
with falling heavy snow and blowing snow... producing white-out
conditions across the region
west of the Chesapeake Bay. These
conditions will continue through early this evening before gradually
subsiding after 8:00 PM.

While all regions in the area are experiencing extremely dangerous
conditions... Baltimore County... the city of Baltimore... and Anne
Arundel and Harford counties in Maryland are experiencing
particularly perilous winter weather conditions through 3:00 PM.

People are encouraged not to panic... but to simply stay
inside... enjoy your favorite indoor activities... and ride this storm
out... the hazardous conditions will be improving later this evening.

If you get stranded in your vehicle... do not leave your car to try
to walk for assistance... you can quickly become disoriented in
wind driven snow and cold. This storm will subside early this
evening... so wait in your car for emergency help to arrive.
Periodically run your engine for about 10 minutes each hour for
heat. Ensure your exhaust pipe is cleared of snow and ice. Crack
your windows to avoid Carbon monoxide poisoning. Tie a colored cloth
to your cars antenna or window to be visible to rescuers. From
time-to-time... move your arms... legs... fingers... and toes to keep
blood circulating.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


The snow began falling Friday night and has finally stopped. 30+ inches of snow later we are beginning to shovel our way out. As of now I am not quite sure I know where my car is as the drifts have completley covered the cars to the point that you would not know they are there. One of the nice parts of the blizzard has been the fact that we got to sleep in this morning and Mass was moved to 11:30am. After Mass and a quick lunch a bunch of the guys went out to try and reclaim some of the parking lot. With the help of the plow and 15 guys, we were able to clear 3 cars in an hour and half. After that we gave up as there was nowhere to move them to. Below you will find some of the pictures from our day. I will add some more later, as they are shared within the house.

One of the great challenges is that there is nowhere to put the snow. Back to work!

What you don't see are the 40 cars parked in this photo!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Food for Thought

This weekend one of the priests on the faculty shared the following words from Archbishop Goodier, who served many years ago in India. They seemed really powerful and mad me think. I hope you enjoy them.

When I was younger, a novice in religion,
and knew myself less, and knew others less,
and was full of high ambitions in the spiritual life,
and sought in books and in study,
in thought-out plans and schemes on paper
for guides to the summit of perfection,
I set virtues before me, and meditated on their beauty,
and proposed to myself to acquire them,
sub-dividing them, analyzing them,
arranging their degrees as the steps of a ladder.

This week, as the good spiritual writers bade me,
I would acquire the virtue of patience;
next week it should be a carefully guarded tongue;
the week after should be given to charity;
then should come the spirit of prayer;
and in a month or two, perhaps, I might have an ecstasy
and “see the Lord.”

But now, when I have grown older, and find myself
still struggling for the first of these virtues,
and that in a very elementary degree,
and have been taught quite other lessons than I dreamt of,
in part by the sorry disappointments in my own soul,
in part by the progress seen in the souls of others,
I am convinced there is one road to perfection better than all else—
in fact, that if we neglect this one no other will be of much avail.

….it is not possible to grow in the knowledge, and love,
and imitation of Jesus Christ, without at the same time
growing in the perfection of every virtue
and becoming more a saint every day.

This, then, if I were allowed to start my spiritual life over again,
is the line along which I would try to live it;
and is the line along which I would try to lead
the lives of any whom God gave into my care.
Particular virtues are good things—of course they are;
it is much to be always patient,
to be diligent in the use of our time,
to be considerate of those who try us,
to keep our tongue in control;
nevertheless, “Do not the heathens do this?”
And is it not possible to possess all these, and yet,
on their very account, to remain as proud as Lucifer?
I would go further and say that the devil himself
must possess many of these virtues;
he can certainly bide his time, he can be very busy,
he can speak honeyed words,
he can accommodate himself to everybody’s needs,
he can be the most attractive of companions.
But these things are not the main issue;
they are often no more than the paint on the surface;
and true sanctity only begins when the affected.

And this is done, almost alone, by love;
when the creature loves, then it is changed,
and till then scarcely at all.
Thus it is that the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ
goes deeper down than any stoic striving after virtue;
it is flesh and blood where the other is but bleached bones;
it gives life and substance where the other is only dead perfection;
the imitation of Jesus Christ includes every virtue,
makes them unconsciously our own, produces them from itself,
and does not merely put them on from without,
even as the brown earth gives forth the beauty of spring flowers
and does not know it.

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