Happy birthday to his excellency, the Bishop of Sacramento, Jaime Soto! And may you all have a happy and blessed new year! I myself will be going to a party at the house of one of my old coworkers from the days of Longs Drugs (before they became CVS.) I always enjoy these opportunities because it won't just be people I know, but many people I don't know. And when people I don't know find out what I'm doing and where I am, they always have lots of questions about the faith and the Church. St. Peter tells us to always be prepared to give an account of the hope that is in us. I'll admit it can be daunting prospect given all of the false notions of the good life my generation has been raised on, but then I remember that it's not me I'm talking about. Whatever I say to people as a seminarian and some day, God willing, a priest, should not be about me. "It is not I who live, but Christ who lives in me."
I clearly remember last year's New Year's Eve party. It made me grateful that all seminarians must have some philosophy before being admitted to theology. One guy I spoke with was something else. It was like pulling teeth just to get him to concede that there is an external reality which is independent of our own subjective perceptions. I think of it as a good experience though. Part of a priest's vocation is to teach Truth (Truth with a capital "T" is a person, remember.) The flip side of that is a priest must be able to refute error. The dictatorship of relativism the Holy Father once spoke of does not like the latter one bit. It is wrong to hold that some things are wrong. It is an error to tell someone they are in error. But that is precisely what we need our pastors to do today: 1) Lead people to the Truth that is Jesus Christ; and 2) perform the spiritual work of mercy of correcting those in error.