Progress Report, 05/24/2013
By the time this is published, I’ll be making my way with some other seminarians to a Diaconate Ordination Mass in the Diocese of San Diego. Three seminarians from Mount Angel will be ordained to the diaconate, and God willing, will be ordained priests of Jesus Christ next summer. Please keep these men in your prayers - what an exciting time for them!
I spent the beginning of this week at a retreat center in Running Springs with most of the other seminarians from the Diocese of Orange. The purpose of the retreat was not to be silent and spend all day in prayer and meditation — far from it. The purpose was to get to know each other better, as we spend the academic year spread throughout three different seminarians up the coast. We did this by cooking ethnic food for each other and sharing our vocation stories. (And, if truth be told, there was a late-night game of Settlers of Catan, too.) It was a good time to grow in fraternity and fellowship and, most importantly, in the Lord.
My schedule for the summer is also beginning to take shape. I’ll be spending Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday mornings at the Pro Sanctity Center in Fullerton, California; I’ll be leading an Explosive Gospel group on Wednesday evenings throughout the summer (more info to come); and, if everything works out, I’ll be helping at the parish one day a week, too.
Thank you for your continued prayers. Until next week, be a saint!
Progress Report, 05/17/2013
Throughout the summer, postings here at Grace & Caffeine will take the form of weekly “progress reports.” They will be posted every Friday at 12 PM PST. You can subscribe via email here.
My last week and a half of my first year of formation at Mount Angel Seminary was trying. I had five final exams, two papers to turn in, and I tried to make time to socialize with my seminarian brothers who I would not be seeing for three months or, if they were moving on to a different seminary in the Fall, who I would not be seeing indefinitely. Because of the aforementioned, sleep was not a huge priority.
We played nine games of Settlers of Catan during finals week, and I regret none of them.
But I made it through the last week, thanks be to God. My father flew up to Mount Angel on Thursday and spent a few days with me. I showed him around my school on Friday and we explored the Portland area on Saturday. My mom drove me up to Mount Angel in August, and my dad flew me home — two bookends to my first year of seminary formation.
My father at Roloff Farm, made famous on this TV series.
Now, it’s summer and I’ve been home for almost a week now. I’ve caught up on sleep, seen some of my friends from whom I was away for four months, and reunited with my family. It feels good to be home. Over the next almost thirteen weeks, I’ll be helping out at the parish and at a nearby retreat center, I’ll be studying Latin, and I’ll be reading as much as possible. Got a novel suggestion — drop me a line!
Until next week, be a saint!
Holiness. Sanctity. Sainthood.
We hear these words a lot. Or, if you hang around me, you hear these words a lot. And we know that in the Christian life, we are called to be perfect as God the Father is perfect, to strive to love to the maximum as Christ poured himself out in total love for us on the Cross, and to cooperate with the grace and movements of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.
But what do they mean? It’s so easy to say these things and to simply let them be words on our lips and fleeting thoughts in our minds, that rapidly disappear like the morning dew. If we really believe that we are called to holiness, how does that change our lives? How does that change the lives of our family and friends around us? How do we act? How do we live? How do we relate with others, knowing too that they are called?
I will be the first to admit that I have not, as often as I preached the universal call to holiness, practiced what I preached. I have fallen short of the mark. I have not let this awesome vocation form, re-form, inform, and transform me (to borrow a phrase from Bishop Thomas of Helena, Montana) as often as I should. I have desired holiness, but I have not desired holiness. If I really desired to be a saint, I would let that desire be the basis for everything I think, say, and do. I would submit to that desire at every single moment, because it is nothing less than the desire of Jesus, who beaten and bruised, cried out on the Cross, “I thirst,” and shared with us his deep and intimate desire for the salvation and sanctification of souls.
When they asked St. Thomas Aquinas what you had to do to become a saint, his response was simple: “Will it.” In other words, choose it. It’s not easy, but it is simple. In each situation, we can choose to be a slave of love or a slave to sin. That we would choose to be a slave of love! For there, paradoxically, we are completely free! A saint chooses love, because he always fixes his gaze on Jesus, who is Love Incarnate.
As I finish my last few weeks of my first year of seminary formation, I renew my desire to become a saint. May both you and I seek Jesus, find Jesus, and love Jesus with our whole lives for the greater glory of God.