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darkness falls + care pack + volleyball

September 30, 2008 Leave a comment

DARKNESS FALL on us during Evening Prayer right before dinner.  The winds picked up and there was an erie feeling in the air.

One of our Brother’s Mother made snack care packages for all 60 of us seminarians.  Thank you!

Volleyball was tonight.  Foot injury during basketball.

 

Vietnamese food night

September 30, 2008 Leave a comment

CULTURAL FOOD NIGHT — today was Vietnamese food night.  Egg rolls, spring rolls, multiple sauses and more.  Great food!

 
  

CCD + free will + Bruce Almighty + prayer

September 29, 2008 Leave a comment

Today in 10th grade CCD we did “free will” and prayer using clips from Bruce Almighty.  We had a great debate of “free will” verses God’s “all-knowing” nature.  Also discussed angels, being that today is the feast of the Archangels.  It was a great day!

Here are most of the clips on “Free Will” from Bruce Almighty:

Another clip from Bruce Almighty:

Miami Jubilee Vespers + Primum Regnum Dei

September 28, 2008 Leave a comment

Tonight, at 4:30pm, the Miami Seminarians were at St Mary’s Cathedral in Little Haiti for Vespers (evening prayer) and a special recognition awards service started by Bishop Carroll called Primum Regnum Dei.

    

parent dinner + talent show

September 27, 2008 Leave a comment

To close Parent Day @ SJVCS, we had a delicious dinner and Talent Show by some gifted brother seminarians.  Songs, poetry, music, and Randy performing “Mack the Knife” like Louis Armstrong.  —Awesome night!

      

Parent Day Mass + lion tattoo

September 27, 2008 1 comment

On Parent (visiting) Day, we had a beautiful Mass with all our families.  Our Rector, Fr Michael, had a great homily about the formation of Men here at St John Vianney College Seminary using a story of a wuss getting a tattoo of a lion on his back.  You can’t pick and choose areas that are easy to change.  If you’re getting a tattoo, you can’t leave off some parts … it needs to be complete in order to claim the real thing.  Any real formation requires some level of sacrifice and pain in order for true growth.  It’s not just a Catholic idea, either.  —powerful

golf cart labor Jefes + Bishop’s Day Off

September 24, 2008 Leave a comment

WORKLIST — On Wednesday afternoons we all have a Work List Job that involves some kind of manual labor around the seminary campus.  The job changes each semester. 

This semester, I’m the Work List Coordinator Assistant (that’s why I can’t drive the golf cart).  My job changes depending on the needs of all the areas of work but looking cool in a golf cart is the most important job description.  : )

 

BISHOP’s DAY OFF — With all our work we’ve done over the last couple weeks, and most especially yesterday’s celebration for Bishop Noonan’s 25th Priestly Anniversary, we were given a DAY OFF under special dispensation by the Bishop himself … which is this Friday! We LOVE our Bishop Noonan!  (not just for the day off, but that’s nice too!) 

legendary “Tree of Vocational End” @ SJVCS

September 24, 2008 Leave a comment

Here at St John Vianney College Seminary (Miami, FL), there is a beautiful and gigantic tree outside the Library building with a legend attached.  Apparently any seminarian that has tried to climb the tree has left the seminary [and not become a priest].  I’m not one for superstitions, but knowing that now may make the tree a temptation during a time of spiritual “desolation” or just on one of those “stressful” seminary days that forces the question, “Why am I here again?”  I hope I don’t do something that extreme [and immature] to actually consider an avenue of “vocational suicide” in a moment of weakness.  Fortunately for me, I have a long walk to that “tree” from the Pre-Theology houses … and I know my fellow brothers are there to keep me from “myself” in those moments.  — Thank God today is a “good” day  : )   lol

Bishop Noonan’s 25 year party

September 23, 2008 Leave a comment

Tonight, we helped Miami Auxiliary Bishop John Noonan celebrate his 25th Anniversary of his priesthood.  Us seminarians spent much of the afternoon preparing with table set-ups.  The evening began with a beautiful Mass.  The homily enlightened all to how personable Bishop Noonan has always been.  Afterwards was a reception with dinner and stories mostly from former seminary classmates of the Bishop’s.  Great food, fellowship and priestly fraternity.  (I was a bartender and table server)  — Congratulations again, Bishop Noonan!

      

my SJVCS bros Anthony A & Michael H

September 22, 2008 Leave a comment

Our seminary website here at St John Vianney College Seminary has a new blog that features 2 of my brother seminarians posting “a day in the life” of a seminarian.  Check them out!  Anthony Antuono (2nd Year Sophmore) and Michael Hartley (1st Year Sophmore).

 

Click their pictures for their blog posts!

CCD: faith + songs with a message

September 22, 2008 Leave a comment

Today was class #2 of Religious Education @ St Timothy Catholic Church (Miami).  I assist the cathechist in 10th grade Confirmation.  We welcomed 3 more kids to bring our class to 10 so far.  A great group of kids!

After reflecting on yesterday’s Gospel reading (Workers in the Vineyard), we reviewed their assignment.  They were to find a song they liked that had a religious message.  Everyone had good examples as they read some lyrics out loud.  [Below are some videos of a couple songs used.]

Afterwards, we reviewed chapter 1 in their textbook.  We discussed faith (Hebrews 11:1), Divine Revelation, Bible (Hebrews 4:12-13), Old Testament (Hebrew Scriptures), New Testament and more.  I’m not sure how it got started, but we tried to prove someone’s girlfriend existed in the next room and I remember mentioning Metaphysics class somehow.  It was a lively discussion.

“Rise Today” by Alter Bridge
Our time is running out / Hope we find a better way
Before we find we’re left with nothing
For every life that’s taken / So much love is wasted

This world / Only love can set it right
This world / If only peace would never die
Seems to me that we’ve got each other wrong
Was the enemy just your brother all along?
Yeah, oh yeah / I want to rise today / And change this world
Yeah, oh yeah / Oh won’t you rise today / And change this world?

 

“Meant to Live” by Switchfoot
… We want more than this world’s got to offer
We want more than the wars of our fathers
And everything inside screams for second life, yeah
We were meant to live for so much more / Have we lost ourselves?
Somewhere we live inside

 

“Dare You to Move” by Switchfoot
… The tension is here
Between who you are and who you could be
Between how it is and how it should be
I dare you to move (2X)  / I dare you to lift yourself up off the floor
I dare you to move (2X)  / Like today never happened (2X)
Maybe redemption has stories to tell
Maybe forgiveness is right where you fell
Where can you run to escape from yourself?
Where you gonna go? (2X)  / Salvation is here

Theatre + intensionality + throwness + Back Wall + social animal + simplicator + radical individualism

September 22, 2008 2 comments

[here are some weak notes from last week’s Metaphysics class:]

In order to present an image for the structure of human experience, we use the image of a “Theatre.” We are the person in the audience, always watching, not passive. We go to the Theatre to see with “intensionality.” Not “intentionality” (with deliberation), but with “intensionality,” – a basic movement or dynamism in our relationship (like Augustine’s “restless heart“). It is a “throwness,” where our experience of being thrown into that dynamism in engaging and not passive, like a picture camera (Naïve Realism).

Procrastination is, therefore, the art of trying not to be human, hanging on to and not moving … repeating the same thing to the point of distracting us from thinking, avoiding “intensionality.”

Also in the Theatre, we watch Actors that don’t move, but are identifiable to their purpose. Behind them are changeable “Backdrops” that we may see as an outdoor picnic scene or an indoor house scene that we can easily identify. These Backdrops are our presuppositions. We have “thematic” presuppositions that are explicit and fully conscious of. We also have “non-thematic” presuppositions that are implicit and ingrained in us that we must learn to identify. In order to come to real “truth,” we must identify what our “natural standpoint” is, that becomes our reference point, pull of presuppositions, to discover the universals of truth for our lives. These universal are the “Back Wall” of the theatre. The “Back Wall” behind the “Backdrops” is “being” that we seek.

———–

Man is essentially a social animal, as Aristotle said. Modernity, however, does something unique. Through Radical Individualism, the slate is wiped clean making man the only being of importance. This was best expressed by Locke … Man is essentially an individual. It is later on that he organizes itself as a society. This is portrayed in our society with icons like the “Marlboro Man” who’s a cowboy living independent very self-confident without the need of others. This idealized character, however, is not real and used to sell cigarettes.

This Radical Individualism cannot be true. We are born into a family that necessitates society to “raise” a human being, at minimum, a man and woman to conceive a human being. One of the first acts of God, as seen in Genesis, is to create a society: “It is not good for Adam to be alone.” Locke is wrong. Aristotle is right. We ARE social animals.

———-

With Naïve Realism, we have “Simplicators” that see things as “it is the way it is.” We must abandon the “Simplicitor.” We strive for Hermeneutical Realism, in which what man encounters is real … not imagined or invented.

Animals, just as man, has sensation that allows them to experience hot, cold, wet, blue, hungry, etc. Animals respond to their environment, but only as stimuli to their sensation. It is a “pseudo-perception.” Human beings, however, have true perception, whereby they can make discoveries and rationalize their sensations to, ultimately, make references using language. When we describe the world, we relate our presuppositions (“Backdrops”). All human experiences are mediated by language. Language is the beginning. We take it for granted. Man is the only being that is intrinsically dynamic, that has awareness that he “IS” (“Who I am?”). No other being is aware of it’s being.

renewing my blogging vows

September 21, 2008 1 comment

I haven’t been blogging very much for the first 3 weeks of the new seminary year (and barely any over the summer). I have a stack of outlines and notes of things I meant to blog and journal about, but I just keep putting it off (I guess until I get some “free” time … in seminary? … I must be dumber than I look). It’s not that I haven’t wanted to, but I let myself get distracted by “busy” stuff.

There are so many options to do here at seminary. I could go to the community rooms and watch a movie, follow yet another TV series, play games, lounge around with my brother seminarians, play sports, work out in the gym, take a walk (I’m not a jogger), eat the great food and desserts, do some class readings, homework, start writing one of several papers this semester, plan a lesson for Monday Religious Education apostalic work, listen to music, study Scripture, spend time with our Lord in an Adoration Chapel, take a nap, go for a drive, and more and more and more.

Somewhere along the way, I started on the wrong foot and now find myself slowly rising from the floor assessing what happened. Maybe this is a growing pain of seminary “formation” … or maybe my priorities got renumbered and I procrastinated my universe’s perfection. This is a long way of saying I’m lazy!

When I started blogging last May 2007, I wanted to (1) track my discernment journey by forcing myself to acknowledge my life’s details in words that I could look back on to see its growth. I also (2) wanted to keep my closest family and friends to better understand this “mysterious” journey to the priesthood as I’m doing myself. As a extra, (3) I wanted my home parish family of St Bernadette Catholic Church in Hollywood, FL to better understand the journey they’re so supportive of. And finally, in the process of blogging, (4) maybe it could inspire others (strangers) to better understand vocations, discernment, the Catholic Church, etc. That was my perfect plan.

Where am I at now? … My 4 month blogging hiatus has made friends and family ask if I’m still a seminarian. I assured them I still was, but needed a break from something I forgot the “WHY?” for. Even without regular daily posts for past few month, my blog gets an average of 300 visitors a day. Most of that traffic comes from search engines for pictures I include in posts (especially cultural food night pictures) as well as a variety of keywords I identify for each post. Most of that traffic, from what I can tell, is not intended with vocational discernment curiousity. The minority that are have been very encouraging and well responsive on the blog and in personal emails. I appreciate you ALL more than I can express in words.

So what now? … I miss the blogging. It helped me, (forced me), to reflect on my day to see what God has for me. Last year, during a Holy Hour with Miami Auxiliary Bishop Estevez, he related some spiritual direction he received while he was a seminarian. He was told to reflect back on your day and identify points where you saw God’s grace in your life and connect them to “see” the Lord. That advice inspired me to include DOTS in some posts and I don’t usually explain publicly, but have significance to “paint” the day when I go back and read a past post. This weekend’s Day of Reflection Retreat echoed that idea in the first talk. That triggered my re-commitment [to myself FIRST] to quiet the busyness and put my spiritual contact lenses back in every day. Blogging help that and so I’ll get back Catholic Kermit. I’ll start my back-dating some significant posts I’ve been meaning to write as soon as possible to now deny the Lord’s work in my life (despite my own selfish plans). And it starts with this very post! God bless and be holy!

clean heart for the old man

September 20, 2008 Leave a comment

We started a “Day of Recollection” silent retreat last night with one talk followed by a Holy Hour with Benediction, Adoration & Confession.  The leader of the retreat is Fr Oscar Alonzo, a wise religious priest who teaches at Cardinal Gibbons High School (among many other things).  Here are some notes I jotted down for reflection:

1. When plans change, take it as God’s providence.

2. “Through Him, with Him, and in Him …”

3.  Behind every great man is a great woman.

4.  Pray for a “clean heart” for the “old man.”

5.  Heart is driven by (1) power of love or (2) love of power.

6.  As we reflect on our vocational journey, identify WHO was an instrument of your vocation? 

7.  Use Scripture models: Abraham (Gen 12+), Moses (Ex 3), Isaiah (6), Jeremiah (1), and Mary (Luke 2)

Acts 2:38 (joke)

September 19, 2008 1 comment

An elderly woman had just returned to her home from an evening of church services, when she was startled by an intruder. She caught the man in the act of robbing her home of its valuables and yelled: ‘Stop! Acts 2:38!’, (Repent and be Baptized, in the name of Jesus Christ, so that your sins may be forgiven.)  The burglar stopped in his tracks. The woman calmly called the police and explained what she had done. As the officer cuffed the man to take him in, he asked the burglar: Why did you just stand there? All the old lady did was yell a scripture to you.’  ‘Scripture?’ replied the burglar. ‘She said she had an Ax and Two 38s!’ 

Knowing scripture can save your life – in more ways than one!  — [thanks Mom]

— Tonight, we start a Day of Recollection, a silent retreat, until tomorrow evening.  Pray for me, my fellow brother seminarians and all those discerning God’s Will for their lives.  God bless & be holy!

Snow White is true?

September 15, 2008 Leave a comment

[here’s a weak summary of last week’s Metaphysic class:]

We begin our discovering of truth as young children.  We slowly “unveil” reality through the use of language (from our parents).  We are imbedded in a world that is linguistic always a part of the mystery, filled with presuppositions.

Young Billy starts with purely expressive sounds reacting to the environment around him.  They become discoveries (alitheia) that first identifies each object as a proper noun (ie. Mom, Dad, Spot, Skippy, Lassie, Pluto, etc.).  Over time and experience, the use of metaphors makes common relations to universals (parents, dog, etc.).

The use of stories is also a means of discovering truths.  As in the story of “Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs,” the character, actions and reaction in the narrative give insights into universal truths.  The Queen is obsessed with her beauty, is vain, and has much pride.  Her true beauty is represented as a witch.  On the other hand, Snow White is not concerned with pride or vanity, whereby her virtue causes others to love her, like the “humble” little people (dwarfs).  The story reveals that evil cannot kill virtue.  Love is more powerful that hate, while showing the roles of vice, virtue, love.

We hear stories, read them in books, and see them in movies.  Thru stories, we are transported in understanding to something that cannot be seen with the physical eye.  Understanding is a the combination of rationality and good will.  (Augustine calls this understanding the “Inner Teacher.”)

Is the story true?  An adult’s first reaction may be No, because it didn’t happen, at the surface level, with those particular characters in that particular place in that particular way.  But, the story is true, as a narrative medium that has deeper meaning revealing “truth.”  Children who haven’t been told stories when they’re little may have a difficult time reading the Bible.  We learn to discover truth through stories.

All art, at the surface level, is false.  But it allows you to look beyond the surface to discover a deeper truth.  Rhetoric is the use of knowledge (with eloquency) for a moment of insight.  All of these means of story telling, literature, rhetoric, art and music shows how language guides us into truth, through revealing insights, discovery of meanings and universals.

Silence is a moment of pause in language, used to reflect on and understand insight.  We must allow silence to guide us to discover of meanings.

How do we know history?  Through parents, teachers, books, stories, etc.  The past no longer exists, but we reflect on memory and recollection to remember its truths.  Our recollections bring presuppositions that we must learn to identify and remove in order for universal truths to be revealed.  We have “thematic” presuppositions that are explicit and fully conscious of.  We also have “non-thematic” presuppositions that are implicit and ingrained in us that we must learn to identify.  In order to come to real “truth,” we must identify what our “natural standpoint” is, that becomes our reference point, pull of presuppositions, to discover the universals of truth for our lives.

my SJVCS bros Anthony U & Greg V

September 13, 2008 Leave a comment

Our seminary website here at St John Vianney College Seminary has a new blog that features 2 of my brother seminarians posting “a day in the life” of a seminarian.  Check them out!  Anthony Ustick (2nd Year Junior) and Greg Visca (2nd Year Sophmore)

 

Greg is also the one in charge of the new blog, so let him know what you think.

Miami Priest Convocation

September 11, 2008 Leave a comment

Today is the last day of the Miami Archdiocesen Priest Convocation (every 2 years) held at the Hyatt Regency in Weston, FL.  The theme coincided with Pope Benedict’s emphasis on the Writing of St Paul this year. 

I served morning Mass & prayer with 3 brother seminarians.  It was a great experience to see so many priests together in fellowship.  The most powerful moment was the prayer of concecration said by the whole room as we celebrated the Lord’s Supper.  I wish I could have taken a picture.  — I’m blessed to have been chosen to be present and serve.

Cuban food night

September 9, 2008 2 comments

CULTURAL FOOD NIGHT — Tonight was Cuban food night.  Great food!

 

in media res + unveilment of being + no language, no world

September 8, 2008 Leave a comment

[here’s a weak summary of class notes for Metaphysics:]

We are “in media res” (in the middle of) the world, language and Being.  To be in the world is to be in the mixture of language and reality (being).  In the philosophical approach, we don’t go beyond it.  We simple recognize it.  We can take the theoretical approach for limited subjects, like sciences do.  Since we are not “theos,” we cannot objectify everything.  Heidegger says “language is the house of being.”  Truth is the unveilment of Being.  Being is that which cannot not be. 

In the theoretical approach, we use correspondence (apophansis), as in the sciences.  In the hermeneutical approach, we use unveilment of being (aletheia), as in the arts, philosophy and theology. The theoretical is grounded in the hermeneutical approach.  In philosophy, we need understanding, unveilment of truth.  In theology, we use revelation as authority.  Theology is not irrational.  Theology is transrational.

Revelation is the unveilment that we understand is from God that demands faith and invites us into creation, just as the creator has entered into his creation (incarnation).  Revelation is found in Scripture and Tradition. 

Philosophy and theology overlap in the preamble of faith: (1) God exists, (2) man is free, and (3) man’s life goes beyond life.

We are constantly “in” language, like a fish in water.  No language, no world.  As children, we begin our use of language referential unveiling Being.  We start with our identification as unique beings with proper nouns (ie. Mama, Papa, Spot, Lassie).  Metaphorically, we eventually make universal references (ie. parents, dog).