So its been a really long time, I mean a really long time since we’ve posted. And well that’s terrible on our part, especially my part. A lot has happened here at Mt Angel so I hope to share some of the highlights for you. While I’ve tried to collect photos for posting it doesn’t always seem to work. So please bear with this text heavy post. In case I hadn’t mentioned it before, we have two new seminarians at Mt Angel Seminary. David Panduro who is in College II and Ivan Mora who is in pre-theology. Pretty soon I will have their bios up. We are glad to have them with us.
Steven Wood, who is in first theology received the ministry of Lector from Bishop Armando Ochoa this semester. As an instituted lector he is commissioned to proclaim the readings in liturgy and also to help teach the faith. While this is not a step to the priesthood in the strict sense it is a milestone. In a sense it marks our entry liturgical ministry as the Church entrusts us with that service. The lector is also expected to study and pray with the Scriptures deeply and regularly.
I am pleased to announce that I was recommended to transitional diaconate by Mt Angel Seminary at the end of my annual evaluation as was Rev. Mr. Jose Victor Gutierrez. He along with Rev Mr. Michael Ritter will be ordained to the priesthood on June 6. On that same day, indeed in the same liturgy, my classmate Mr Raj Derivera and I will be ordained, God willing, to the transitional diaconate. So, please, keep us and all those who will be ordained to either order this summer in your prayers. It is an exciting time!
One class we have is called Advanced Preaching/Presiding I. In this class we learn how to celebrate Matrimony and Baptism and Funerals. We also learn how to give Benediction and serve as the deacon in Mass. I have to confess in the Mass practice I was slightly off in my words. Another part of preparation for ordination is a five day retreat. This is to prepare us for the spiritual reality of ordination.
On a less cheery note I should mention the passing of an important monk of Mt Angel Abbey who worked in the seminary, Fr Paschal Cheline. He was dear to countless people and this was testified to by the large crowd present for his funeral. A number of alumni came and observed “even after death he’s still building community”. He had a plan for life: Jesus Christ, the Church, Liturgy, and novels. While it is impossible to take the totality of his influence, this article is a good summation. Pray for his happy repose.
Just recently Francis Cardinal George was called home to the Lord as well. He is remembered by many for a host of things. I personally will always remember this famous quote, “I will die in bed, my successor will die in prison, and his successor will die as a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the Church has done so often in human history.” I think it indicates not the bleak reality we face but, rather, the depth and intensity of Christian hope and Charity. Do pray for his happy repose as well.
This semester is in its final weeks and soon we will be on Summer break which always holds the promise of a summer apostolate. Stay tuned for more details!
This link will take you to a good blogpost with a fantastic video about seminary life. Consider it! Consider Priesthood!
Formation for the priesthood is serious business, but even people engaged in serious business need some time to relax. Mount Angel has a monthly “Free Weekend” to make sure that we seminarians take the time to recreate ourselves. Every weekend has free time, but on Free Weekends seminarians can return home, go camping, or spend a couple of nights away from the Hilltop.
This last Free Weekend (February 20-22), four of us Sacramento guys—Ivan, Ivan, David, and myself—took the opportunity to visit Portland (Preston, a seminarian from the Diocese of Honolulu, also joined us). The biggest city in Oregon is just an hour away from Mount Angel, but there’s a huge difference between the bustling city and our peaceful Hilltop.
After Saturday morning Mass, we set out for Portland. Our first stop was The Grotto, a Marian shrine with an incredible view. We spent time walking the Grotto’s replica of the Chartres Cathedral labyrinth and enjoyed an incredible view from a cliff-top chapel.
After the tranquility of the Grotto, we jumped into the activity of the downtown. We lunched at a burger joint, browsed the largest bookstore in the world, and finished off with a visit to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
We didn’t spend the whole weekend away from our studies, but it was a well-needed break in the middle of mid-term exams. Even better, it was a chance to bond as friends and diocesan brothers. Thanks be to God for free time!!!
This semester we have two new seminarians from Sacramento at Mt Angel. This is the (I think) the second time we have had men join in the middle of the year. It’s something we aren’t used to, and it has made me think a lot. As I get to know my new brothers well I realize just how much of a process of discernment is and how the beginning and the end look different. I remember when I was at the beginning looking at guys where I am know thinking it must be nice to be done discerning or coming to points where I thought I was done discerning. Which made me realize discernment, while on going, isn’t the same thing at all times.
It is true that at this point I am not struggling with the question “is this God’s will for me?” just four months from diaconate I’m pretty sure it is and it seems the Church, through the seminary, is as well. But let’s not loose sight of “pretty sure” perhaps I won’t be recommended or called to orders. So what is it that I am discerning now? That’s a good question. Let’s take the long road to get there.
Discernment of the priesthood starts out in a very subjective way. “Is God calling me?” “Should I go to seminary?” “Diocesan or religious priesthood?” these are basic questions and then there is the doubt, the questions, the hesitations. So it’s all about the person and is what he hears a call and what to do with it. From there he brings in the Church by seeking counsel talking to a vocations director and perhaps from there enters seminary. Where he is formed and known. In the early years it is still subjective but less so, the Church starts to form an opinion. Then a sense of surety, that one is called to the priesthood. The discernment shifts, “what needs to be done to be a good priest” “Where do I need to change to be a holy and good priest” “What gifts do I have and I do I incorporate them into ministry”. It seems a little subjective still but is more directed toward ordination. All along the seminary and diocese is discerning as well. “Does he seem inclined to pastoral ministry? “Does he sustain a spiritual life which corresponds to his vocation?”
These are just some of the things that go on as one progresses in his discernment. So the real message, point isn’t to share where I am at with my discernment. But rather to let you know that it’s a process and where you are at is okay, as long as you don’t stay there! Like many things in life, discernment is about moving or else you fall backwards. You’re not going to have the answer definitively in a fixed amount of time. Nor is moving forward a solemn and irreversible commitment to priestly ordination. So take courage where you’re at in this moment and move a step forward. Perhaps you need to call a vocations director or perhaps make a retreat or perhaps to own that you’re next step is to join a diocese or religious order and discern with them.
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