Wednesday, May 5, 2010

This week at St. Patrick's

We're in the middle of finals week here in the States. This morning our academic dean, Fr. Bud Stevens, gave an excellent homily as he usually does. When he started out as academic dean at St. Mary's in Baltimore, the then rector asked him if he could teach a course called "theology of God." You're surely thinking that that comes from the redundant department of redundancy. The study of God of God? But consider that back then traditional courses on the Trinity had been crowded out by the likes of dream interpretation, theology of politics, and the theology of culture. Now those are important (well, probably not dream interpretation) but they're losing sight of what it's all about: God.

This semester I took a course on the philosophy of Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman. In one of his sermons, he said that worldliness means accepting the values of the world which tell us that this life is the only one there is. I wonder how many of us Catholics are worldly without even knowing it? We worry endlessly about which school we'll go to, what career we want, finding a spouse, etc. If we don't listen to the right music, or watch the right movies, or have a house of our own by a certain age, then we think of ourselves as misfits or failures. But where does God enter into our thinking? Should we not always be trying to please Him more than the world?

It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking about seminary as just another secular university. We study hard and get good grades so the bishop will send us to Rome after we're ordained, so we can become canon lawyers, so we can eventually become bishops ourselves some day. That is NOT how one should approach the seminary. We study hard in order to understand what the Church teaches. We want to understand what the Church teaches because some day, God willing, we will be teaching God's people what the Church teaches (and nothing but.) We teach them what the Church teaches all for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.

If you're discerning whether God calls you to the priesthood, that is what you should always have as your primary motivation: the love of God and neighbor, and a great zeal for souls. Being the fallen creatures that we are, we all come to the seminary with other motivations thrown into the mix, but always ask God to grant you greater love of Him and His commandments. Study hard, do well on your tests and your papers, but never forget why you're doing so.

1 comment:

guamkidd said...

Amen to that brother! Fr. Steven's homily this morning was excellent as always and so too is your point. I was introduced to a biblical commentary by Blessed Theophylact, Greek Archbishop of Ochrid and Bulgaria around 1090 A.D. a week ago. Commenting on Mt 5:16, he states that Christ “did not say, ‘you must display your virtue,’ for that is not good; but rather He said only, ‘let is shine,” so that even your enemies will marvel and glorify not you, but your Father. If we practice virtue, we must practice it for the glory of God, and not for our own glory.”

It had not occurred to me that displaying our virtue could become such a stumbling block or worse yet a cause for scandal or sin. The passage calls us to let our light shine, but that light within us is not ours. It is the teaching of God that is the light, and therefore, what shines forth from us is not ours to claim but Gods.

God has given us a tool box full of talents, a tool box full of what is necessary to carry out our vocation. I would challenge us to use these talents to raise others up to the newness of life, to preach the Gospel through their actions and through their words so that it may be plainly seen that what they do, is done in God.

(Is this enough traffic Mr. B?)