This series called “Highlights from the Hill” is about life in the Church seen from the perspective of this seminarian from Mt Angel Seminary which I attend and sits on a butte which we call “the Hill”. There isn’t a particular focus but just things that were noticeable around here. This one is gonna be kinda random because among the goals is to let people know what life in the seminary looks like. Somethings have happened, others are being talked about or something just struck me and I feel moved to share. By the way, if you don’t know who I am click the tab “our seminarians” and look up Alex, that’s me.
So seminary has been in session for about 8 weeks now. We had this day called “community day” and it was a day of games and competitions to build community and break the ice here in seminary. We also had a symposium, an academic discussion on a topic. Every year we start with the Mass of the Holy Spirit, an inaugural address, and a talk from the rector. So it was a healthy balance of fun “stuff”, spiritual “stuff” and academic “sutff”.
Every Monday we have a conference in the seminary and last night was our spiritual conference, it was on the virtue of pride. It was really well done and I can say that because I wasn’t the presenter. We spent the rest of the night in silence to consider the material and our spiritual life. I enjoy this night very much because it is a breath of fresh air every month, no noise, no studies, no friends, just a man and his thoughts.
Saturday was a day of great joy here at the seminary, six men were ordained transitional deacons and in the spring and summer will be ordained priests. Two were from Sacramento, Rev Mr. Victor Gutierrez and Rev Mr. Michael Ritter. Two great friends of mine, you can meet them in the Our Seminarians section as well. This was an interesting experience for me, it was the last ordination I was going to witness before my own, God willing, and a wide variety of emotions as I watched these two men to whom I am close make those promises and be ordained.
As many of you know the Church is in the middle of a Synod and some of the information coming out seems to be making quite a splash. It’s definitely a conversation but a brief conversation here. You see, this synod is a preparatory for a greater synod next year and any conclusive teachings are still away out. Bold discussion has always been part of any synod and that is happening now. This is a good reminder that we always we need to read the original text and not just commentary.
Tomorrow (Thursday) our second year men at St Patrick’s Seminary will receive the ministry of Acolyte. While not a proper step to the priesthood it is part of the process and required for ordination. The acolyte assists the priest at the altar, distributes Holy Communion when the priest needs help, purifies the sacred vessels (with or in the absence of the deacon) and takes the Eucharist to the homebound. It is a significant step as we begin to identify with the liturgical role of the priest. So in your kindness please keep these men in your prayers as they make this step, that they may become true men of the Eucharist.
When I first started seminary I had no clue what personal holiness was really about. Prior to seminary I thought being good was enough, when I started seminary I realized I needed to work on holiness “because the people need and have a right to holy priests.” Well that was a good enough reason to start but holiness has to become personal if it is going to be real. So why am I writing about holiness when the title of this is called “The Call”? Bear with me and it might make sense.
Last night we had a Rector’s Conference during which our rector talked to us about priestly identity and one is a priest and from that does priestly things, not vice versa. The same reality applies to the vocation to which God calls each one of us. God does not call us to do but primarily to be. The expression “I do fatherhood for 3 children” is not a reality we express. Conversely, ” I am a doctor” while the correct way of communicating it in English is not a complete reality either. So when considering a call to the priesthood one needs to stop and remember it is a call, to a sacred duty yes, but a particular way of being in relationship with God. In perceiving a call to the priesthood we perceive an invitation to share in the eternal priesthood of our Lord Jesus Christ. So we have two important points in considering this idea of a call. 1) It is a call to a way of being and 2) it is a sacred calling.
It is important to remember that second point, that it is a sacred calling because we need to hold it in respect, in awe, and in wonder. We are free to accept and we are free to decline must we must do both with the proper consideration, correct disposition and attitude. If we say yes it is equally necessary to maintain this healthy attitude toward the call because we can fall into a false way of thinking and turn the call inward on ourselves distorting.
So to help further reflection a some questions to think about:
1) How is my current relationship with God?
2) How do I view the priesthood?
3) Do I recognize the great grace this call and time of discernment is?
Pray about these and then find someone whom you trust to discuss these with and then pray about them some more!
This painting, The Call of Matthew, reminds us that each vocation is a personal call, and only you can answer your call. God doesn’t call somebody else to be and do what He has planned for you to be and to do. Consider it! Consider Priesthood!
So it has been a long time….a way long to time and if you’re actually reading this, THANKS!!!
So here it is October 5, 2o14, seminary has been in session for a month now. Let’s see what I can share with you…
Well since the last post we welcomed three new seminarians to our diocese, Steven Wood from Auburn, Ca; Ivan Franco from Willows, CA; and Efren Moreno, who is from Mexico. We also received a very pleasant surprise when the seminary year started, Jeremy Santos, one of our seminarians went on a leave of absence which turned out to be a very brief leave of absence. He is at St Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo, Park, Ivan and Steven are at Mt Angel in Oregon, and Efren is at Seminario Hispano de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe in Mexico City. It’s nice to have these guys in formation but please pray for more men to answer the call.
As many of you now Fr Robert Barron and Word on Fire ministries launched heroicpriesthood.com, check it out! It’s another great resource in discernment.
From last post till now the Sacramento seminarians saw the end of our summer assignments and then a few weeks of vacation. I took an epic road trip with some seminarian buddies of mine. Nate flew to Sacramento from San Diego and then we drove to Idaho to pick up our friend Mark and from there we camped a few days in Montana where we saw a fourth friend, John, and a priest we knew from seminary. The jewel of our trip was Glacier National Park.
When school start my class had to begin the process for candidacy to Holy Orders. The Rite of Admission to Candidacy will be on October 23, 2014, this rite is by where we public and official declare our desire to be ordained and the Church through the bishop, responds by promising to walk with us in our formation. Candidacy happens at different levels depending on each seminary and diocese. Next we petition and if called are ordained, first deacons, and then priests.
Yesterday several seminarians attended the annual Rosary Bowl Northwest in Salem. Some of us participated in the liturgies. It was a great event with many opportunities for Confession, Mass, to pray the Rosary with a thousand Catholics and see some other good Catholic stuff. Since it was an all day event some of us went to lunch and/or dinner together and enjoyed some good old fashioned fraternity. It was also very encouraging to see and meet so many people who pray for us.
Here are some random pictures of all that happened. Its a combo of the rosary bowl and the trip I told you about. Stay tuned for more organized posts and up to date information. I’m pretending to spear fish, I forgot my fishing pole, Nate and Mark, the Mass of the rosary bowl and the beauty of Glacier.
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