Friday, January 30, 2009
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Monday, January 26, 2009
(Your humble author is in the third row, second from the right. Also visible are my brother Sacramento seminarians Eric Flores, Michael Estaris, Antonio "Ace" Racela, and Michael Ritter)
It's difficult to overstate just how much the local San Francisco media dislikes us and the pro-life cause (30,000 people is some kind of pony show! Good grief.) This was my first time on the Walk for Life, and I'm told the opposition's numbers were almost equal to our own the first year. This year I estimate about one to two hundred counter-protesters showed up, including two of the infamous Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (try explaining them to someone new to this country.) Most of the counter-protesters congregated at the end of Fisherman's Wharf and they tried to shout us down, but we responded with a rousing chorus of "Ave Maria."
Many thanks to the SFPD for ensuring everything went smoothly. And thank you to all of the wonderful guest speakers, and Auxiliary Bishop Bill Justice of San Francisco for leading us in the opening prayer. There's one wonderful story in particular I remember well. The speaker, Raquel, was sharing a hospital elevator with another woman who was in tears. Raquel asked what was wrong and the woman said she was pregnant. Raquel was pregnant at the time as well, and she offered her congratulations. But the woman tearfully replied that she was probably going to have an abortion. Raquel took the woman by the shoulders and said to her, "No, you are not. You are going to have your baby, and it's going to be a girl. I wanted a girl at first, but my child is going to be a boy. You're going to name her Jasmine - that's my middle name - and you're going to dress her up all pretty in pink with bows in her hair." The elevator stopped and the woman got out. Several years later, Raquel ran into that same woman who was pushing a baby stroller. It turns out she had twin girls and named them Raquel and Jasmine.
It's a sad commentary on our culture that the bare minimum of natural law - do not kill the innocent - is now considered "theocratic." But protecting the innocent from being killed is part of the very essence of government. Any government which actively pursues or passively allows the killing of the innocent negates its own essence, its own reason for being. All Catholics are morally bound in conscience to object to legalized abortion:
Laws which authorize and promote abortion and euthanasia are therefore radically opposed not only to the good of the individual but also to the common good; as such they are completely lacking in authentic juridical validity. Disregard for the right to life, precisely because it leads to the killing of the person whom society exists to serve, is what most directly conflicts with the possibility of achieving the common good. Consequently, a civil law authorizing abortion or euthanasia ceases by that very fact to be a true, morally binding civil law.
...Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize. There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws; instead there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection.
There are many different ways of opposing the pro-abortion legal regime, but whether to oppose it or not is a settled issue, and all of us have a duty to oppose it by whatever moral means are at our disposal in our particular states of life. We future priests especially need to lead by example.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
I recently found out that a priest from the Diocese of Sacramento is taking a leave of absence. Please keep Father Oscar in your prayers. Also, I heard today that a 4th year seminarian at Conception College Seminary in Missouri passed away. Please pray for the repose of his soul. Also, on less difficult news, please pray for the 50+ men who recently attended the discernment weekend at St. Patrick's Seminary. We all know how hard it is to discern the priesthood today. Pray for their hearts that they may clearly see where God is calling them.
And let us finally pray for our beautiful state of California, especially as the Walk for Life hits the streets today, that we may turn away from a culture of death to one that loves life in all its forms, unborn, born, elderly, disabled, and everyone inbetween. Don't forget pictures Kevin! You can send 'em to me and I'll post them. :)
Friday, January 23, 2009
I strongly urge all Catholics and other people of good will to join us tomorrow if you are able. The pro-life cause will be in a hostile political climate for the next four years at least. But we must remain committed to the eradication of the evil of abortion in season and out of season. If you cannot be there, please keep us in your prayers. It's a difficult fight, but it is one in which Catholics - particularly we seminarians and future priests - cannot afford to lay down our arms. Defeat the abortion industry and restore a culture of life? Yes we can!
Thursday, January 22, 2009
I think one of the ways this will happen is through the media. We've seen movies like Juno, Bella, Waitress, and even Knocked Up that treat abortion as something that just does not sit quite right at the bottom of the stomach. There is also a lot of music. From Nick Cannon's song on how his mother almost aborted him to Common's song on one man's perspective on abortion. I post some of the lyrics below.
I think we must pray, do penance, but we must also act. We must discover ways to get the message, the TRUTH, across, that life, every life, is valuable. Every life is good. As Mother Teresa says something to the effect, "Too many children? That's like saying there are too many flowers in the world."
I reflect on abortion in my own life. I know people who could have been aborted - troubled pregnancies, single parenthood. Abortion is like that huge elephant in the room no one wants to talk about. Yet for my entire life and so many others, it has been hanging over us. You almost have to wonder, who's missing? So today we pray, we fast, and we prepare because tomorrow we go out and continue to meet a world that reject this message of life - that all human life has the right to life. :)
"Knowin you the best part of life do I have the right to take yours
Cause I created you irresponsibly
Subconciously knowin the act I was a part of
The start of somethin, I'm not ready to bring into the world
Had myself believin I was sterile
I look into mother's stomach, wonder if you are a boy or a girl
Turnin this woman's womb into a tomb
But she and I agree, a seed we don't need
You would've been much more than a mouth to feed
But someone, I woulda fed this information I read
to someone, my life for you I woulda had to leave
Instead I lead you to death
I'm sorry for takin your first breath, first step, and first cry
But I wasn't prepared mentally nor financially
Havin a child shouldn't have to bring out the man in me
Plus I wanted you to be raised within a family
I don't wanna, go through the drama of havin a baby's momma
Weekend visits and buyin J's ain't gon' make me a father
For a while bearing a child is somethin I never wanted to do
For me to live forever I can only do that through you
Nerve I got to talk about them ****** with a gun
Must have really thought I was God to take the life of my son
I could have sacrificed goin out
To think my homies who did it I used to joke about, from now on
I'ma use self control instead of birth control
Cause $315 ain't worth your soul
$315 ain't worth your soul
$315 ain't worth it"
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Many times I hear Catholic men say to me, "I just couldn't handle celibacy," or "I could never be a priest, I'm not good or smart or patient or holy enough." Well, neither am I! Neither are any of us! If God only chose men who were qualified for the priesthood, there would still be only the Eternal High Priest. At the risk of sounding like a bumper sticker, God does not call the qualified but He qualifies the called. Fulton Sheen said that there wasn't much God could do with anyone who felt qualified for the priesthood, but He could work wonders with those who recognize what they really are and their need for cleansing.
The desire to be a priest must exist but the desire alone is not enough. Response is necessary as well. You have to take that step of telling your pastor or vocation director that you are attracted to the priesthood. God's ordinary way of speaking to us is through the people in our lives, and you'll never know for certain one way or another unless you tell others. That was definitely the scariest part for me, but we can do all things through He who strengthens us.
"We pray, Thee O Almighty and Eternal God! Who through Jesus Christ hast revealed Thy glory to all nations, to preserve the works of Thy mercy, that Thy Church, being spread through the whole world, may continue with unchanging faith in the confession of Thy Name. We pray Thee, who alone art good and holy, to endow with heavenly knowledge, sincere zeal, and sanctity of life, our chief bishop, Pope Benedict, the Vicar of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the government of his Church; our own bishop, Jaime, all other bishops, prelates, and pastors of the Church; and especially those who are appointed to exercise amongst us the functions of the holy ministry, and conduct Thy people into the ways of salvation.
"We pray Thee O God of might, wisdom, and justice! Through whom authority is rightly administered, laws are enacted, and judgment decreed, assist with Thy Holy Spirit of counsel and fortitude the President of these United States, that his administration may be conducted in righteousness, and be eminently useful to Thy people over whom he presides; by encouraging due respect for virtue and religion; by a faithful execution of the laws in justice and mercy; and by restraining vice and immorality. Let the light of Thy divine wisdom direct the deliberations of Congress, and shine forth in all the proceedings and laws framed for our rule and government, so that they may tend to the preservation of peace, the promotion of national happiness, the increase of industry, sobriety, and useful knowledge; and may perpetuate to us the blessing of equal liberty.
"We pray for his excellency, the governor of this state Arnold Schwarzenegger, for the members of the assembly, for all judges, magistrates, and other officers who are appointed to guard our political welfare, that they may be enabled, by Thy powerful protection, to discharge the duties of their respective stations with honesty and ability. We recommend likewise, to Thy unbounded mercy, all our brethren and fellow citizens throughout the United States, that they may be blessed in the knowledge and sanctified in the observance of Thy most holy law; that they may be preserved in union, and in that peace which the world cannot give; and after enjoying the blessings of this life, be admitted to those which are eternal.
"Finally, we pray to Thee, O Lord of mercy, to remember the souls of Thy servants departed who are gone before us with the sign of faith and repose in the sleep of peace; the souls of our parents, relatives, and friends; of those who, when living, were members of this congregation, and particularly of such as are lately deceased; of all benefactors who, by their donations or legacies to this Church, witnessed their zeal for the decency of divine worship and proved their claim to our grateful and charitable remembrance. To these, O Lord, and to all that rest in Christ, grant, we beseech Thee, a place of refreshment, light, and everlasting peace, through the same Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior. Amen."
Monday, January 19, 2009
I was reading this article on CNA and it immediately caught my eye. According to the article off of CNA, a Gregorian University Professor, Father Antonio Spadaro, was warning about the uses of social networking sites. Here is an excerpt from the article.
"Father Spadaro says that on Facebook, “the need to know others and to make oneself known, and the need to experience friendships are ‘serious’ needs that run the risk of confusing superficial and sporadic relationships with friendship; or communication with exhibitionism; or the fact of wanting to know others with voyeurism. While the difference between the one and the other is radical, an appropriate education in relationships and one’s self-perception is needed in order to see it. (CNA)"
Wow. Isn't that what most critics have been saying about social networking sites all along?
However the Father later writes, “The ideal use for Facebook, in my opinion,” the priest wrote, “is one based on real relationships. It is an important medium for rediscovering classmates, childhood friends, those we have lost contact with, for rediscovering old friends.” "Properly used, he continued, Facebook can become an opportunity to “strengthen relationships which because of distance or other motives are at risk of fading” or it can be used to “recover relationships that have grown distant through life. (CNA)"
This is my last post on it I promise. X D .
"Italian expert warns of risks of social networking sites" Catholic News Agency. 19 January 2009. http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/new.php?n=14815
I've been reading Pastores Dabo Vobis for my formation meetings and I came along this quote that I think hits at the heart of being a Lector and points the way towards the priesthood as well.
"The Council tells us: "All clerics, particularly priests of Christ and others who, as deacons or catechists, are officially engaged in the ministry of the word, should immerse themselves in the Scriptures by constant sacred reading and diligent study. For it must not happen that anyone becomes 'an empty preacher of the word of God to others, not being a hearer of the word of God in his own heart' (
The Lector institution reminded me of the necessity to always be praying with the Scriptures, coming to know the face of Christ in his word, so that I am always ready to bring that same word to the people. Only when I know Christ can I proclaim his words in Scripture before the assembly. I'm not the best when it comes to regular prayer with Scriptures but if anything, this institution gives me an extra push and hopefully some extra grace as well.
Here we are in the chapel before the beginning of Mass.
Here's the other side of the Immaculate Conception Chapel.
There is not a whole lot to the Institution of Reader. But there are three parts that I counted. First, we were called. You can see me over on the left side - end of the alphabet means I am also in the last row. :) I have to say there was something especially unique about standing up before my brothers and saying present - as if to say here I am Lord and I am ready for this next step to priesthood. I dunno what it will bring but I am ready and willing.
This is Archbishop Burke preaching from his chair. This is the traditional way for a bishop to preach with mitre on and crozier in hand. But I felt bad for the acolyte who had to kneel for the whole thing. My hands would have been shaking and my kneels crying out in misery. Well, maybe my turn is in a couple years. :)
After his homily there was a short prayer (2nd part) where all of the men to be instituted Lectors knelt down and the Archbishop said a prayer and blessed us.
Then we found ourselves in the third part. The Archbishop hands us the Scriptures and says something that I have completely forgotten and I cannot seem to get my hands on. My face is funny. I was trying not to smile. :)
And there we are, 57 newly instituted Lectors of the Roman Catholic Church. AMDG.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
By the way, I was instituted as a Lector last Sunday by Archbishop Burke. I'll have pictures up when they finally post them! Hopefully soon
On to more interesting things. :)
"There will be no one left to turn the lights off." Well that is basically what someone told me after we discussed a bit about seminary formation and he played down the fact that there are 61 new seminarians at the NAC. The priesthood is folding up and even those who are left, us, are not going to be able to do much in the years to come. We will burn out. We will be tired. We can't live this life. After talking to him, I wasn't even inspired to want to be a priest.
But is this true? Is the priesthood a dying vocation?
You already know my answer and I think the many seminarians I have met would respond in kind. If you have not been to a seminary recently, let me tell you, the morale is high. The morale is high because we know this is not the end. This is the beginning. This is the springtime of the Church. And we have hope more so because we trust in Christ and know that the Church will never fall even as we may fall.
In fact, this is an amazing time to be a seminarian or a religious. The Holy Spirit is moving in ways we cannot even begin to understand. In the 5 months I have been here in Italy, I have been amazed at all the vocation stories I have heard. Men have been called from every direction, from high school, college, and from careers. I've found men like myself who have given up a girlfriend and others who have given up a promising career. Most of us are young, in our 20's. If this is not a testament to something happening across our country I don't know what is.
Be encouraged. If you are called you are not alone. Many others, so many, thousands of us, have taken the first step in entering the seminary doors and we do so as brothers. We go to be trained, to be formed as Christ's priests, and sent out to do battle for souls. This is the time. What are you waiting for?
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
1. What excites you about the Catholic Church? Why are you Catholic?
∙ Cradle Catholic
∙ Hope: Resurrection
∙ Guide for my life
∙ Theological grounding
∙ Action: evangelize, make the world a better place
∙ Mystery: A God of surprises
∙ Catholic social teaching: Respect for human dignity, social justice
∙ Prayer and work
∙ Eucharist; the opportunity to receive Eucharist daily
∙ The witness of the saints
∙ Scripture and Tradition, including apostolic tradition
∙ Moral authority and teaching of the Church gives it “back bone”
∙ Richness of liturgy and ritual
∙ Diversity and multi-cultural nature of the Church
∙ Transformative power of the Church on our lives
∙ Sacraments – experiential nature of the sacraments
∙ Even with tradition, there is always “newness” as well in the Faith
∙ Many possibilities for ministries – to match the stages of our own life
∙ Music ministry
∙ Sacrament of Reconciliation – a tangible way to know God’s forgiveness
∙ Universality of the Church
∙ Recognition of the Trinity
∙ The challenge to be “counter-cultural” in today’s world
∙ The unique place of Mary in the Church
∙ The evidence of the Holy Spirit working in the Church always
∙ The opportunities to grow spiritually, not just on an emotional level
∙ A community of support for the family
It's amazing how many ways the Church can reach people. You can see so easily how the Church as mother stretches her arms wide to meet us all. Isn't there something for everyone? As unique as each person is the Church extends herself to meet them. The Church is often written off for being so narrow-minded and behind in the times. Yet here, is this not evidence of that the Church is alive and active, living and moving and changing hearts through the Holy Spirit. Ok second question. This one is a bit tougher but I love the responses.
2. What are the reasons young adult Catholics give for leaving the Church?
∙ In their homilies, priests are often boring and speak in monotone, the content is not lively and actively engaging young adults, the content is often geared to the older Catholic generation. The preaching is watered down; seems like a waste of time.
∙ Music at Mass is horrible
∙ Lack of apologetics that show how the Faith is both reliable and absolutely true
∙ Lack of fraternal support in the faith from friends. Need Catholic fellowship in the same age group
∙ Absence of ministry to young adults in the parish
∙ Lack of a sense of community
∙ Young adults are busy and overscheduled
∙ Lack of Catholics in parishes with an authentic and vibrant Catholic faith
∙ Fear of Confession
∙ Anonymous Confession is not readily available; it’s scheduled at inconvenient times
∙ Secularism draws young adults away from the Church through its own form of evangelism, especially by means of the media (e.g. television)
∙ Sloppy liturgy
∙ Lack of catechesis; general ignorance of the Faith; bad catechesis
∙ Do not know about the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist
∙ Do not understand the Mass, often because its transcendence, heavenly aspect is ignored, so they expect entertainment like you find in other churches
∙ Not given good reasons to be Catholic
∙ Catechesis does not challenge the opposing values of our secular culture
∙ The Church isn’t evangelizing, it isn’t inviting young adults outside the fold
∙ Lack of active youth ministry in the parish to evangelize the young before they age
∙ Lack of excitement among clergy and parish staff
∙ The faith is not taught in a depth past the bare essentials
∙ The Church is viewed as being a rule maker and they have this idea that being a Catholic is about following rules or laws, which are strict
∙ Scandal and hypocrisy
∙ The liberal and secular media.
∙ The secular, materialistic culture is stronger than Catholic culture
∙ Building careers take priority in life
∙ We are not challenging in our preaching and catechesis. Young adults want to be challenged!
∙ Lack of intensity in what the Church has to offer. Young adults need powerful experiences
∙ Lack of true discipleship that radically changes and equips
∙ Atmosphere that is not child friendly
∙ Lack of Bible study geared towards young adults
By the way, the picture above is a joke. :) They are just too funny to not post sometimes.
I think as seminarians these words have to be convicting. I know so many young adults who have either left the Church or stand on the fringe of the Church. We all know many. And how many of these reasons might very well resonate with them. I think as seminarians part of what we can realize, what I try to realize, is our studies becomes a ministry because we are preparing ourselves to be able to catechize, preach, teach, and evangelize effectively. And we need to know our stuff and not simply the doctrine but Christ Himself, his love, his mercy. There is so much that needs to be done that it can be overwhelming. I'm always feeling a bit like I'm not the one for this task. But that is why the first question came before this one. :) We have hope, the Spirit is always moving, with us, and guiding us towards how we can bring conversion to our own hearts and the lives of the faithful, especially young adults. AMDG.
Saturday, January 3, 2009
Anyways I thought I would continue a reflection on the next part of the document on the use of psychology in the admission and formation of seminarians. I'm trying to read a bigger chunk otherwise I might be at this forever. That's nice if I had nothing else to talk about but I think I do have other things to say. :)
I think I will just quote a few points in the next section.
"The priestly ministry, understood and lived as a conformation to Christ, Bridegroom and Good Shepherd, requires certain abilities as well as moral and theological virtues, which are supported by a human and psychic – and particularly affective – equilibrium, so as to allow the subject to be adequately predisposed for giving of himself in the celibate life, in a way that is truly free in his relations with the faithful."
"The Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores dabo vobis treats of the various dimensions of priestly formation...Before the text deals with the spiritual dimension – “an extremely important element of a priest's education” 7 – it underlines that the human dimension is the foundation of all formation. The document lists a series of human virtues and relational abilities that are required of the priest, so that his personality may be “a bridge and not an obstacle for others in their meeting with Jesus Christ the Redeemer of humanity.” These virtues and qualities range from the personality's general equilibrium to the ability to bear the weight of pastoral responsibilities, from a deep knowledge of the human spirit to a sense of justice and loyalty."
This is all the more pertinent today when there seem to be so many developmental problems. Candidates for the priesthood come out of a culture of broken families, destructive views of sexuality, limited understandings of relationships, and on and on. The idea that the human dimension of the candidate is most important can be seen as well in realizing that God's grace works with our nature - not against it. So we need to be well formed as men before we can be well formed as priests. If we lack what it means to be men, we will never be good priests. Because God's grace cannot work against our nature. Priests are called to be sacrificial and disciplined in their pursuit of holiness and saving souls. But the candidate must first be sacrificial in his relationships with others and disciplined with his own life. Obviously these two stages are not mutually exclusive but to enter the seminary there is an expectation that a candidate has a certain level of human maturity.
And I like the last part most especially. The candidate must have the qualities that make him able to manifest Christ to others and not become a barrier to faith. What are those qualities?
"Some of these qualities merit particular attention: the positive and stable sense of one's masculine identity, and the capacity to form relations in a mature way with individuals and groups of people; a solid sense of belonging, which is the basis of future communion with the presbyterium and of a responsible collaboration in the ministry of the bishop; the freedom to be enthused by great ideals and a coherence in realizing them in everyday action; the courage to take decisions and to stay faithful to them; a knowledge of oneself, of one's talents and limitations, so as to integrate them within a self-esteem before God; the capacity to correct oneself; the appreciation for beauty in the sense of “splendor of the truth” as well as the art of recognizing it; the trust that is born from an esteem of the other person and that leads to acceptance; the capacity of the candidate to integrate his sexuality in accordance with the Christian vision, including in consideration of the obligation of celibacy."
That's a lot of things. :) One of the one's to highlight especially today is a good understanding of masculine identity. I remember encountering that on a seminary application and wondering what to put. It's hard to think of what is really means to be a man today. There are all the false notions of masculinity like using women, having power, money, and the like. But the reality is that masculinity is rooted in sacrifice, protection and care for a woman and her dignity. Man, in similar ways to woman, is made to go outside himself.
The document offers hope because the reality is that it is God's grace that will convert one's heart to be a well-formed man and a well-formed priest. I think it's amazing to realize the importance that is now placed on the human formation of the priest. I've seen this in action in my own formation and I thank God I am in the seminary today where I receive so much human formation as well as from the other pillars of formation (spiritual, pastoral, and academic). I can't imagine my vocation without them. AMDG.
Thursday, January 1, 2009
- G. K. Chesterton, in Heretics
May the blessed and holy Mother of God watch over us and guide us through this new year of 2009!