My seminary journey
Well it has been a very very long time since I have posted to this blog, but I thought I might today. For those of you who wonder where I have been. I have been both lazy and a bit scared to post here.
Let me explain: I am lazy because I have thought about posting for a while, but just never willing to find the time and a bit scared because the name suggests that this is my seminary journey and it was, but in late 2005 I decided to return to the world with most of you. In other words I am no longer a seminarian.
For some of you this may come as a surprise and to others it was probably assumed. Let me just say that my time in seminary was a time of growth, learning, forming, and real clarification about who God has made me to be and in the end I believe God has made me to live the Gospel in the Lay state.
I must say that I never get used to saying that and a part of me longs for it to be different, but at the same time I know that it is true. Formation works! I went in with a very cerebral attitude on priesthood. For me it was a factory. I would go to seminary, hang out there for 5 or 6 years and poof... Shawn would be a priest. It did not turn out that way.
I went to the seminary and found myself unable to simply jump through hoops. I was at Saint Meinrad Seminary in Saint Meinrad Indiana and at that particular seminary community is so important that to not fully participate in it just seems wrong and I had to give myself fully to formation as to not short change my brothers and I found that once I gave myself over to formation I had all kinds of questions and all kinds of issues that had to peeled away and I had some deep wounds that God had to heal before I could do anything with my life at all.
With the help of a wonderful spiritual director Fr. Godfrey Mullen, OSB who was as much a consoler as he was a spiritual director and a few friends whom I was very close to; specifically, Daniel, Dennis, and Brett. These men listened to me spill my soul to them and really gave me a rock to stand on when I felt as if my world was falling apart and I had no idea where my emotions, formation, or life in general was taking me. In fact these particular friends I really feel are my brothers and I appreciate all that they have done for me and continue to do for me.
At any rate with a lot of laughing, crying and at other times screaming I found myself in the position to leave the seminary and live a life in the light of wounds healed and a life that I could live in the happiness of knowing that I am not God, but that there is a God and he loves, you and all of his creation (even me) very very much. So much in fact that he will lead you exactly where you need to be even if that place is only a short stop on a long road, but I know that my stop at the seminary will make me the husband and father that my Lord desires me to be, in fact, my stop at the seminary was the only way I could have ever become able to be a husband and father.
I remember once I was told after a great breakthrough during spiritual direction; "Shawn you have been covering a gangreneus wound with a bandaid and you wondered where that smell came from, but now you know and now the healing can begin." Finding that wound was the key and allowing God to be my physician with that wound allowed me to feel whole again and once I was whole again I found myself knowing that the happiness God desired for me was not found in the priesthood, but in fact would be found in life as a Lay person and I believe further that this will be as a husband and father. Now I will always be vulnerable because the scare where my wound was will always be weak, but by God's infinite grace I have been mended and my journey through seminary was the key and I thank God every day for the experience and the man he has made me through that experience.
I hope to post here more often and look forward to exploring the life of faith with you all.
It seems to me that God is often looked at as a problem to be eliminated by much of modern/ post-modern thought. As if we could actually eliminate God from the whole schema of creation. The Post-Modern feminist deconstrctionists believe God is an invention and that this invention is in place ony to keep a corrupt system in place that is out to oppress and to keep people where they are at. They call these inventions the "meta-narritive" and they believe that if we simply break down history we will soon realize that humanity is not governed by rules like those the Church suggest, but by a law that everyone must be free to do with themselves what they please and that as long as they are not hurting anyone, they should be able to do what they want.
Lets do a little deconstructionism right now. Only lets not deconstruct the history of the patriarchal system and blame the Church for that system, but lets deconstruct the deconstructionist.
This person is born into a system of rules and regulations and they are rasied Catholic. They are catechised badly in the early 1980's and they know nothing about thier faith. They become teenagers and thier parents continue to make them go to Mass and maybe even Catholic school. They are bombarded by images on the television, movies, magazines, and when they begin dateing they take this to heart. When the begin to feel pressure from their peers to have sex, they feel guilty about wanting to, but they may do it anyway. Over time they feel less guilty for thier sins and decide that everything they had been taught was untrue and they had been dooped. They go off to the university and they find the Women's and Gender studies department and make that thier major. They dicover deconstructionist thought and begin seeing the logic in it. They become so entrenched in that thought process that God is thier construct and that as long as they can fight against that construct, then thier guilt will no longer be present and the system does not apply to them.
So lets deconstruct this person. The story is that they were rasied with rules and a moral code. That moral code did not match thier desires or thier experience. They disreguard thier moral code and feel guilty. Their experience says that what they have done shouldn't feel bad, but it does. They search for a reason why this feels bad, the first thing that comes to mind is that they sinned. Noone wants to be a sinner and they then blame the feeling of guilt and shame on thier upbringing and the values taught by the Church. They have already decided that the church is wrong and so them sinning could not be the true reason for thier guilt. They then go out in search of people that are trying to dodge guilt just like they are and they find these people at the university. The logic that thier is no God and that is simply an oppressive system is prevalent there. Since thier support structure does not believe in sin and truth is decided by a majority vote, then they have no reason to feel bad for thier sins, but that they need to blame that system for feeling bad and there is the deconstruction of the deconstructionist.
I guess my point is that deconstructionism is simply the human way of attempting to feel good about sin despite the longing in every human heart to not be separated from thier creator by sin. In order to take away the longing you must remove God from the picture and life without God means life without sin and any feelings of shame or guilt can be placed on the system and no on the fact that we sin and need to be reconciled of that sin.
Well I am back to the seminary to begin my second year of studies. Things have been going well. I have found an acedemic advisor, I have begun spiritual direction and have began to learn about my new classmate. Second year almost always doubles because of minor seminary guy being added in. Classes are not too terribly bad, but I am excited to learn more about the sacrements and the crusades. It is shaping up to be a good year.
I also had a very good summer assignment. I was at the NBP cluster in New Reigel Ohio. The staff and the whole community was wonderful to work with. I had a slew of great experiences. I drove a tractor (i'm from the city so...), made brautworst, when to a sweetcorn shelling party, had headcheeze (don't ask) and was able to help plan Vacation Bible Schools.
It was a great comminuity like 97% Catholic and people spoke the same spiritual language; it was great. Made some great friends with some of the families; it is an experience I will never forget.
Hello Everyone, just thought I would post a little about Lent. It seems to me that Lent is the perfect time to examine the very inner depths of our souls and to see both our good parts and bad. To foster one and change the other. I hope things are going well for you all.
Have a blessed Lent,
Seminary 2004: How I have Changed.
Well J-Term is over tomorrow afternoon. It is a relief. We had ministry assignments as well as classes. It did not leave a lot of time for personal reflection and reading. I was hoping to at least have that over J-term, but that's OK there is always the next semester.
Of the reflection I did get to do: Seminary is an interesting place. Not only are there classes, prayer, and personal relationships to begin to understand there is also the internal struggle to understand who you are becoming. One enters seminary with a clear view of what they think the priesthood is and how they fit into that model, but after just a short time you must evaluate that picture.
Some things stay the same, others change a bit. What stayed the same for me is that priesthood is all about service. If you are called to the priesthood you are called to serve with everything you are, but what changes about that picture is your definition of service.
Service when I entered was doing what I think is important for the greater good of the masses. The greater good is still the important thing, but the (what I think) has changed. For the most part the greater good is not controlled by me. It is my job to take the existing determinations of the greater good and apply those. I don't make the determinations, I only do my best to speak faithfully to them. That will be my job as priest and learning them is my goal as a seminarian.
Obedience is another factor that changes once you are in the seminary. We all have this sense coming in that obedience is doing what you are told without question, but obedience is more than that. Obedience is certainly doing what you are told by those who are your superiors (Bishop, Formation Staff, and the like), but it is also knowing what would be disobedient without being told it is. We all know those kinds of things. e.g. Noone checks to be sure I am praying the Divine Office on Saturday's, nor will they, but it would be disobedient not to. Just because there is not communal prayer on Saturday or Sunday does not mean that I don't have to do it. Other seminarians might have better examples, but that is the one that first comes to mind.
Thirdly you come into seminary with a certain world view, but once you are here for awhile, that worldview changes. I came here thinking that I would be praiseworthy and important and while it is both of those things, it is also not those things. Seminarians are important and priesthood is a special call to holiness and a worthy vocation, but I don't deserve praise for following where God is leading me. God deserves praise over where he is calling me. The priest is not above the people, in fact the people are the reason for priests. We serve the people not our own intellectual satisfaction of what we can do for the people of God.
If you all are interested in more let me know and I can continue this, but I think it is enough for now.
Well I have been back at Saint Meinrad for about a week and things are going well. The whole community is not back quite yet, but will be back at the end of January. I only have one class, a celibacy seminar, and some ministry assignment and that means we have extra time on our hands. Thank God for extra time.
It is good to be back at any rate.
Aborton Ads on the Big Screen
I went to see Lord of the Rings 3 tonight and it was awesome, but prior to the movie I was watching the ads and saw one for Planned Parenthood. The ad makes the woman look so happy and content, it is more of the happy for the choice poo. Her expression in the ad is one of great relief, but I think back to a girl I dated that (prior to dating me) had an abortion and she wasn't happy or content with the decision. In fact she could not feel the way most people do in a relationship.
There were trust issues, intimacy issues, other people with baby issues, and religion issues. She was Methodist when she met me, but changed to Bah-hi because abortion is alright in that religion and because they have an explanation for how it is still good for the baby that was killed. Interesting, but wrong. Abortion just leaves so many loose ends in a person that has one and I am not sure it is something that anyone gets over. I am sure it is hard for the woman because at some point they have to realize that they objectified the human life that was growing inside them, and turned it into merely a object not a human. Not to mention when they realize that they are a murderer, something that they would never even consider in their lifetime.
Some people who read this will probably think back to a time when I was pro-choice and say that I have such a double standard, but it was a time in my life that seems almost too far away to remember. I majored in two things at the university. Philosophy and Women's and Gender Studies. In that context it all seems to make a lot more sense than now. They simplify it so well. They call it a choice, freedom, right, a feminist issue, a reason to vote a certain way. It is all so simple, but they never talk to the emotionally scared women and if they do, they continue to trivialize the act. Heck for me it was trivial as well, until I dated this girl and saw just how much of a mess she was on the inside. It is all so very sad.
My friends that are more left than I would say "it will happen anyway, so why not keep it safe", it is never safe to tear a piece of connected flesh from a person's body. Pain is the body's way of saying something is wrong and from what I understand abortion is very painful. So the safe argument does not seem to hold up.
Or some blame it on the Church's stance on contraception, that is just a another way of justification. Here is why: few Catholics that are well catechised would say that sex before marriage is 100% the correct thing to do, it is probably a sin before you are married, and they do not have a problem with the Church's stance there. If someone is married and they took their promises seriously, than they would willingly accept children that God gives them, at that point abortion is not an issue. Statistics also show that most Catholics ignore the contraception rule in America anyhow, so contraception isn't the problem.
So what is the problem? As a people we have bought the rhetoric and I am guilty of previously accepting the rhetoric. We make it sound so simple, you can be pregnant, then not pregnant, and life can continue like nothing ever happened. Hell we even say that it is not a life, but simple tissues, so we should not care about it. Or we simply say it is a clinical procedure to get rid of something that doesn't belong there anyway. Or the worst rhetoric of all, you should not need to do, have, live with, or think about the things you do not want. If you do not want your baby you can buy back the bad decision for a fee and then you can again be happy.
This was all that the Planned Parenthood ad stood for. It is one of the most disgusting parts of our culture and it is harming all of us everyday one suction, one cut, one mutilation at a time. No lasting happiness is found in using freedoms man gives you, the only real freedom we can attain is God's happiness and the freedom we gain from doing his will.
In fact, this last semester has really made me realize this. I have almost no money, no control over my daily schedule, and I am not dating anyone. It sounds constricting, but it is very freeing. I am doing God's will for my life at this very moment and I am happy. Trusting the world never gave me this; even with all the money, control, and women. I was truly a slave and now I am free from that slavery. Abortion only makes people slaves, it could never grant freedom.