Sunday, November 30, 2008

And then we lost...

Well the football game was close but not that close. Old Men over the New Men 35-22. Not too bad a showing considering we were playing against a former college division 1 quarterback. Pictures to follow...

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Count down to New Man/Old Man football game...

One of the great traditions at the NAC is the New Man / Old Man football game this Sunday. The men have been hard at practice. Weather looks like rain. It'll be a good one. A couple shots from the last day of practice...

By the way, this is our brand new turf field given to us by amazing donors.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Human Formation

There are four major parts of seminary formation: Spiritual, Intellectual, Pastoral, and Human formation. Each element is addressed in different ways in the seminary system. Obviously the intellectual flows from academic studies, spiritual from a consistent prayer life, pastoral from experience in ministry, and then human, which flows from a life of community but also from all sorts of interactions with people in ministry and in other social situations. Each Thursday night at the NAC we have Pastoral Formation nights. Now this can be some dreaded words among seminarians but these nights can actually end up being quite good. These nights cover all sorts of topics on formation. I thought I'd just mention some of the subjects we've covered so far and some of the things we will cover in the future. They're quite interesting...

Receiving Spiritual Direction and Movements of the Heart

Priestly Fraternity and Jesus Caritas Fraternities

Time Management

Intimacy Skills I: Transitions and Relationships

Intimacy Skills II: Cybersex and Pseudo-Intimacy

Spiritual Friendship

Evangelical Counsel of Poverty & Simplicity of Life

Evangelical Counsel of Chastity

Evangelical Counsel of Obedience

Brokenness & Spirituality of Imperfection

The Priest Praying For and With His People

Priestly Identity: Spiritual Physician of Souls

Asceticism in Human and Spiritual Growth

And the list goes on. A number of these are first year conferences. They get more practical in terms of ministry as the years go on.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Lori Drew/Myspace Trial

Before I get into this post, I'd like to thank everyone for having followed all of our postings so far. I would especially like to commend my fellow Diocesan Brothers for their contributions and I would also like at this time to encourage the ones who have not posted to do so.

If you have been following the blog that many of you are well aware of the opinion that I have towards social networking sites. If you haven't then I would highly suggest you read the post that I wrote on September 13, 2008. I am going to borrow my introduction from that article before I begin to talk about this particular story that I have been following.

"I'm going to put a quick disclaimer on this one. If you have a social networking site I do not think any less of you. The words I may use in this post may be very loaded but that is because of my strong feelings towards this subject."

Lately I have been following the story of the suicide of Megan Meier and the trial of Lori Drews. Megan Meier was a 13 year old young woman from Dardenne Prarie, Missouri who committed suicide on October 17, 2006. According to a Wikipedia page about Megan, "Her suicide was attributed to cyber-bullying through the social networking website MySpace." Megan was a member of the social networking site, and was in contact with a fellow Myspace user named "Josh Evans." According to Wikipedia, Megan was a depressed individual but after having been messaging "Josh Evans," her spirits seemed to be "lifted."
"On October 15, 2006, the tone of the messages changed, with "Evans" saying "I don't know if I want to be friends with you anymore because I've heard that you are not very nice to your friends". Other troubling messages were sent; some of Megan's messages were shared with others; and bulletins were posted about her. After telling her mother, Christina "Tina" Meier, about the increasing number of hurtful messages, the two got into an argument over the vulgar language Megan used in response to the messages and the fact that she did not log off when her mother told her to. After the argument, Meier ran upstairs to her room. She was found twenty minutes later, hanging by the neck in a closet. Despite attempts to revive her, she was pronounced dead the following day" This was taken from Wikipedia in regards to Megan's death.

It was discovered later that a neighborhood mother and her daughter were responsible for the user account "Josh Evans." The mother is Lori Drews, a mother of a friend of Meier's. After a period of time, criminal charges have been brought against Lori Drews and as of recent her Defense Attorney has moved to have the case dismissed. My information was taken from this recent blog,, and it resparked my interest in this particular case.

At this time I would like to apologize for my reliance on I know that it is not normally a reliable source but some of the links related to news with this case are either dead or have been removed from their website.

So you're probably wondering why I posted this article. Again I feel that it is necessary to expose the evils that Myspace and other social networking sites can create. Yes, Megan took a risk by participating in this particular website and yes her parents could have monitored her usage on such website. However, this event should never have happened. It was driven through this particular website and it shows how easy internet predators can harm not only our youth but ourselves. I implore all seminarians, priests, laity, and the world to suspend their connections with such a website.

I'd like to hear some of your opinions not only by our readers but my fellow seminarians and brothers.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

And another spoonful of homily...

Sorry, it's been more than a week since my last posting. I've gotten lazy. But not to worry. There is much to discuss in the next few days. Though the three of us seminarians in Rome do not quite get the Thanksgiving experience back stateside, we do a lot to make it seem just like home. We've got our Turkey feast, Big New Man Dinner, New Man show (which basically turns into a burn fest and I'm the curtain guy!), and of course the classic football game. So just wait...

Meanwhile here is another homily from Aaron Rose, another seminarian here in Rome. This is based off of the fourth Sunday in Advent.

May it be done to me according to your word.

My brothers and sisters in Christ,
With these words, Mary gives a home to live in. All of our Scripture readings this Advent have been exhorting us to prepare for the Lord’s coming. In today’s gospel from Luke we celebrate that first coming of Christ in His Incarnation. The Church teaches that Jesus Christ, eternally begotten by God the Father from all eternity, the Second Person of the Trinity, took upon himself a sinless human nature. He inherited everything we as humans have, a human body, a human soul, a human will. He also remained a Divine Person, God, with His Divine Will and Divine Intellect. This mysterious union of Jesus’ humanity and divinity is the Incarnation.

The Incarnation of Christ is the definitive coming of God among mankind. The gospel is very clear how this came about. God sent his messenger, the angel Gabriel, to ask Mary the most important question in the history of the world. “Will you be the mother of God?” As Fulton Sheen used to say, “Will you give God a human nature”?

Mary’s response we know well: May it be done to me according to your word.

I once heard a story about a 12 year old boy who, every day for two years of his life meditated on the Incarnation. He later would enter the Catholic priesthood and give the Church over sixty years of ministry before he died. He gave God his human nature to be used for sixty years as a priest of Jesus Christ. After I heard that story, I thought that God must have used that time of meditative prayer as a foundation for what that boy would later become. What is it about God becoming a Man that drew his attention?

In our first reading from 2 Samuel, King David is sitting “in his palace,” and he is confiding in God’s prophet, Nathan. How can I live in a house of cedar while all of this time, the Ark of God dwells in a tent”? It must have seemed to David that, compared to his cedar palace, a tent is not worthy of God. David wanted to give God something better.

God’s response upsets David’s expectations. God proceeds to remind him, “Should you build me a house to dwell in? I have been with you wherever you went.” It is as if God is saying, David, I do not look at things the way you do. I chose you, the youngest of your brothers, and I made you the king of Israel. I will bring forth a son descending from you, and of His kingdom there will be no end. God did not allow David to build the temple for him because He had another house in mind. He wandted to dwell in David’s human nature.

What made that Catholic priest’s response so wonderful, and what made Mary’s Fiat, her Yes, so wonderful, is that it provided a house for God to work among us. During Jesus’ human life there were many who accepted Him, His way of life and teaching. There were many others who rejected Him. Everyone who ever heard of Jesus had to make a choice.

In God’s Providence, we have been born between the first coming of Jesus in a human nature and his Second Coming in glory at the end of time. Not everyone has been so priveleged. Today, in this fourth Sunday of Advent, God is asking us all the same question He asked King David, the same question he asked that priest, that He asked Mary His Virgin Mother. Will you give me your human nature?

In between Christ’s first and second Coming, He dwells not in a cedar palace. The house God wants to dwell in is found in the Church in the heart of every believer! Right there, in your heart, will you build God a house to dwell in?


Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Homily From a Seminarian...

I am proud to present something else new on this blog. Practice homilies from seminarians! This one comes from Brian Soliven, 3rd year seminarian at the North American College in Roma. This is based off the readings for this Sunday, the Feast of the Basilica of St. John Lateran. Enjoy. Don't worry. He was not preaching during this picture. :)

"We have just witnessed the power of our American citizenship, this past week with the presidential election. Regardless of how we voted, whether Democrat, Republican, Green Party, or Independent, we had the opportunity to cast our vote and in some small way influence the direction of the most powerful country on earth.

Yet, how many of us realize we are still citizens of something even greater then this. Something that is seen and unseen. Something that is much older, which in fact stretches into eternity. Brothers and sisters, we are citizens of Heaven! As Pope Leo the Great once reminded his people:

Christian, recognize your dignity… you share in God’s own nature! Never forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of the Kingdom of God.” -Pope Leo the Great

This is our birth-right. This is our truth. Imagine Jesus Christ telling the Jewish people, 2,000 years ago, that they share within themselves God’s very nature, his very essence. For them the Temple in Jerusalem was God’s chosen dwelling place. It was so holy in fact, only the Jewish high priest was allowed into the inner sanctuary once a year. It was this very place where Jesus commanded the Jews in our Gospel reading today-- “destroy this temple!” And I will raise it up in THREE days! Imagine the utter shock on their faces. He just told them to demolish their most revered site in the universe and he will build a new one in a matter of days. But they scoffed at him.

They did not understand the immensity of his words.

Jesus was not speaking about another building of brick and stone. No—something new was about to unfold. Jesus was referring to his Resurrection, when he would rise on third day ushering the Kingdom of God. This is our new citizenship. Through our baptism we are incorporated into the body of Christ, the new Temple. We are living stones, every single one of us.

Like our American citizenship, our Heavenly home also comes with advantages. I am not merely speaking about the ease of traveling abroad with an American passport, as great as that is. I am talking referring to our divine passports written in our very souls which give us access to something far more valuable--- God, here and now. We don’t have to wait until we die to call upon the fruits of our true home.

By sitting where you are now, on those hard wooden pews, listening to my raspy voice, you are caught up in the very mystery of what it means to belong to the body of Christ. All over the world, millions of fellow Christians, millions of fellow citizens of the Heavenly Kingdom are sitting on similar hard wooden pews, listening to some other preacher’s raspy voice, united not only through spirit but through the Body of Christ, His Church. The fullest sense of being a part of the body, is to be united through its visible expression in the world—the Roman Catholic Church. When we profess the creed at every Mass with the words: we believe in One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, we are not just saying mere words, but professing our faith in the institution Christ established.

Wherever I go out in public, I always make it a point to wear my roman collar. Regardless, if I am at the grocery store, the movies, walking in the park, even at the gym at where I’m bench pressing 300 lbs weights with one hand, you will always find me with my collar. Okay, maybe I don’t go to the gym, but you get my point. I want people to know that a Catholic priest is around. At the same time, this little white collar also invites everyone who disagrees with the Church to express their opinion to me . I don’t mind at all. One of the biggest issues people always bring up is “why?” “Why do I have to go your church? Can’t I just worship in any other church? It’s all the same?

To them I answer: “NO it’s NOT the same.” The ONLY possible reason why anyone of us should be here and call ourselves Catholic, is because it is Christ who established it. It is not of our own making or creativity. It is for this reason that martyrs sacrificed their lives for the faith, why missionaries today, leave their homeland to enter the jungles of Indonesia and the cities of China and Africa to spread the Gospel. That is why. Christ does not leave us alone on earth to figure things out for ourselves. He founded his Church on the rock of Peter, the first pope, and has been passed down through history in a unbroken line of succession up until today.

As a testament to this, the Church celebrates today the dedication of the Cathedral in Rome, Saint John Lateran. It is the seat of the pope, just how the bishop in our diocese has his seat in the cathedral in downtown Sacramento. The cathedral of the pope, however, has one small difference-- it is the mother Church of all Christianity. It was given to successor of Peter in the 4th century by the than Roman emperor, Constantine. It the sign of the unity of our faith and the confidence we hold that what we practice comes directly from Christ.

With all these gifts at our finger tips, the history and the continuity of our 2,000 year old faith, can we honestly say we are taking advantage of our opportunities. I’m sure many of you have benefited from living in this great country of ours, and rightly so. Whether we realize it or not, we have the opportunity for greatness here. We have the chance to get a good education and make an honest living. We can move about freely in our world. We can speak our mind and protest without the fear of our government threatening us, like they do in other parts of the world. Relatively speaking, we have it good here.

How much so, then, should we take advantage of being baptized into the body of Christ? Christian, recognize your dignity…”

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Day of the Dead

Well in Italy it's just called All Souls Day but who doesn't like the Spanish translation? One of the big traditions at the North American College is going to celebrate Mass at the big cemetery in Roma where there is a mausoleum for NAC faculty, seminarians, and staff. We went about a couple weeks ago but I'm only posting this now because well I have not had a lot of time. :)

Fr. Kurt, the director of liturgy at the NAC, gave a great homily. One of the specific things I held on to from it was his short reflection on the lives of these seminarians who traveled so far from home to be formed as priests and never completed that task. Rather God called them to their eternal home. There is something to be said about the sacrifice of men, most of these seminarians dying in their 20's, who leave family and home and even country, to go and serve God. It is not the easiest thing. It stretches one beyond the normal capabilities of any man. Yet it answers the call of God to serve anywhere and everywhere.

One of my favorite saints attached to this go anywhere, do anything mentality is Blessed Junipero Serra who became a missionary - leaving Spain to do work in Mexico before ending up in California and eventually dying there. This is the challenge. But it also prepares us for the task of priesthood. Every apostle eventually left their homeland traveling around to evangelize and many saints as well. In the end, it's a recognition that our home is always in heaven.

There is a seminarian buried at the NAC mausoleum by the name of Frank Parater who is currently a Servant of God and may possibly one day be a saint. He died back in the 1920's. In a final note that he left sealed only to be opened upon his death, he wrote:

"I have nothing to leave or to give but my life and this I have consecrated to the Sacred Heart to be used as He wills...This is what I live for and in case of death what I die for.Since my childhood, I have wanted to die for God and my neighbor. Shall I have this grace? I do not know, but if I go on living, I shall live for this same purpose; every action of my life hereis offered to God for the spread and success of the Catholic Church in Virginia. I shall be of more service to my diocese in Heaven than I can ever be on earth."

Today and everyday we continue to pray for all those who have died, especially our beloved family and friends.