Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Happy Michaelmas

Happy Michaelmas to all! Today marks four years since I was received into full communion with the Church. God continues to do marvelous things!
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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Pearls of Wisdom: Finance 101

"If I could purchase with money the blessings which I possess, I should make much of it; but it is plain that these blessings are gained by abandoning all things." — St. Teresa of Avila, Autobiography, XX, 34

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Friday, September 18, 2009

An Untried Idea

"But where says some is the King of America? I'll tell you Friend, he reigns above [...] Yet that we may not appear to be defective even in earthly honors, let a day be solemnly set apart for proclaiming the charter; let it be brought forth placed on the divine law, the word of God; let a crown be placed thereon, by which the world may know, that so far as we approve of monarchy, that in America THE LAW IS KING. For as in absolute governments the King is law, so in free countries the law ought to be King; and there ought to be no other. But lest any ill use should afterwards arise, let the crown at the conclusion of the ceremony be demolished, and scattered among the people whose right it is." — Thomas Paine, Common Sense (1776)

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Heraclius restoring the Cross to Calvary

At the end of the reign of the emperor Phocas (early 7th century), Chosroes, king of the Persians, seized Egypt and Africa and captured Jerusalem, killing many thousands of Christians and taking away into Persia the Cross of Christ the Lord which Helena had placed on Mt. Calvary. Heraclius, who succeeded Phocas, was prompted by the burdens and disasters of war to sue for peace. But he could not obtain it even under unjust conditions, since Chosroes had been made insolent by his victories. In this great crisis, Heraclius gave himself up to constant prayer and fasting, imploring God's help. By divine inspiration, he raised an army, joined battle with the enemy and conquered three of Chosroes' generals and their three armies.

Broken by these defeats, Chosroes fled and, as he was preparing to cross the river Tigris, he appointed Medarses, his son, as his co-ruler. But Siroes, Chosroes' older son, bitterly resented this affront to himself and plotted to kill his father and his brother, which he did a little later when they returned from their flight. He obtained his kingdom from Heraclius under certain conditions, the first of which was the restoration of the Cross of the Lord Christ. And so, fourteen years after it had been taken by the Persians, the Cross was returned. On his coming back to Jerusalem, Heraclius bore it on his own shoulders in a solemn ceremony, taking it to the mount which the Savior Himself had carried it.

This event was made famous by a spectacular miracle. For Heraclius, clad as he was in gold and jewels, was forced to halt at the gate which led to Mt. Calvary. The more he tried to go on, the more he seemed to be held back. Heraclius and those with him were dumbfounded at this; but Zacharias, bishop of Jerusalem, said, "Consider, O emperor, how poorly you are imitating the poverty and humility of Jesus Christ when you carry His Cross in these triumphal robes." Then Heraclius, taking off his ceremonial robes and his shoes and putting on a poor man's garment, easily went the rest of the way and placed the Cross on that same spot on Calvary from which it had been taken by the Persians. And so the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, which was already being celebrated each year on this day, took on still more luster because of the memory of this event when Heraclius replaced the Cross where it had first been set up for the Savior.

Image from Cardinal Seán's Blog.
Text from Mater Dei.
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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Pearls of Wisdom: Fidelity

"The fidelity of the servant of Jesus Christ consists precisely in the fact that he does not try to adapt the faith to the fashions of the time." — Pope Benedict XVI, at a recent episcopal ordination

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

How I Got Here

Last year I penned an article for Rochester's Catholic paper explaining, in brief, who I was, whence I came, and what my first year in seminary was like. Without further introduction, here it is:

Raised a Methodist, I never imagined I'd find myself studying to be a Catholic priest, but following God's will sometimes takes you in an unexpected direction.

During my freshman year at the Rochester Institute of Technology, I began attending Mass with some Catholic friends, and eventually I even started going to some Catholic Bible studies. That experience left me with a lot to think about, and the more I prayed and the more I read over summer break the more I was convinced that the Catholic Church was truly established by Jesus Christ. I discovered, with John Henry Cardinal Newman, that “To be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant.”

I was received into the Church not long after summer break ended, and the experience of my second year of college was one of constant grace. The things I looked forward to most were praying the Rosary, studying the Scriptures, and going to daily Mass. Although I still gave my best effort to my schoolwork, my classes in Information Technology quickly receded to a place of secondary importance. I wondered whether God wasn't calling me to do something else with my life.

This question was answered for me during a six-week Study Abroad program in Kanazawa, Japan. There I was, half a world away from everyone I knew, with countless opportunities to experience things, and yet the thing I looked forward to most each day was going to Mass. Whether the prayers were in English or Japanese mattered little, because the Eucharist was the source and summit of my life. One can only find joy in doing the Lord's will, and more and more it seemed like His will for me was to enter the priesthood.

Five months before graduation I contacted Fr. Tim Horan, our Vocations Director, and got an application to Becket Hall, the Diocese's house of discernment. I moved in immediately after receiving my degree from R.I.T. and began studying Philosophy at St. John Fisher College while working part-time as the diocesan Webmaster. This year was, in its own way, another year of grace. Through my work at the Pastoral Center and at Blessed Sacrament, my parish assignment, God confirmed to me over and over again that this was where I was supposed the be. At the end of that year, I was told that the Diocese would send me to Theological College, a Seminary in Washington, D.C., and this latest chapter of my journey to the Priesthood has been yet another great blessing.

Seminary is definitely the best environment in which to discern a priestly vocation. The men here “encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called 'Today,'” as it says in the Letter to the Hebrews. While I've learned much in the ten classes I've taken this year, I dare say I've learned even more just hanging around the hallways of the Seminary! The men here come from dioceses all over the country and around the world, and each one of them has his own insights to offer on one topic or another.

My first year in Seminary has also been very spiritually enriching. All men entering the Seminary are required to find a local Spiritual Director, and the first thing mine told me to do was to keep a Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament every day. Even if this had been been my only accomplishment this year, it would all have been worth it!

I don't mean to paint too rosy a picture. There are trials — I certainly expect the nine weeks of intensive Latin I take this summer to put me through my paces! — but every encouraging e-mail, every care package, every card filled with assurances of prayer is a reminder of why I am here: to serve God's people.

Please pray for me and my fellow seminarians, pray for the men entering Becket Hall next Fall, and pray for vocations. God will do great things for the Diocese of Rochester if only we ask Him.
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Friday, September 4, 2009

A Curse Against Book Stealers

For him that stealeth a book from this library,
let it change into a serpent in his hand and rend him.
Let him be struck with palsy,
and all his members blasted.
Let him languish in pain crying aloud for mercy,
and let there be no surcease to his agony
till he sink to dissolution.
Let bookworms gnaw his entrails in token of the worm that dieth not,
and when at last he goeth to his final punishment,
let the flames of Hell consume him for ever and aye.

-From the monastery of San Pedro, Barcelona

Source: Fr. Daren Zehnle
(caveat: I don't read this blog and have no idea what else you might find on it, good or bad.)
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