Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Mysterious Mercy at St. Mary's

Well I'm here :)

I've been here just a week, but so much has happened I don't know where to begin. I'll just go through the ininerary for each day, with brief comments:

So far I've been on an orientation week that started on Thursday, Aug 25, the feast of St. Louis (see pic at right).

Early that morning, at about 12:30am, my dad, brother and I finally arrived at St. Mary's after a 10 and a half hour drive from Louisville. Our stay in the Center for Continuing Formation on the campus of St. Mary's was much appreciated after that long journey.

At 9am on Thursday morning we drove around the campus to the front of the building where we were greeted by Michael Wimsatt, my Diocesan Brother at the seminary. I was so glad to see him. The rest of the seminarians on the orientation committee welcomed me as well, gave me some paperwork and information, and then unpacked my car and small u-haul trailer into my room. I was very glad not to have to unpack that mess!

Here was the itinerary for Thursday:
9am-2pm Arrival at St. Mary's Seminary, Foyer
  • Brief private prayer in St. Mary's Chapel at the pew where Pope John Paul II prayed personally on his visit to St. Mary's in 1995.
  • Archival Display of the beginning of St. Mary's
  • Check-in at Reception Desk
  • Pick up Liturgy of the Hours and T-Shirt
  • General information and move-in
  • Telephone system operating instructions and Long Distance Billing Options

2-5:30pm Free Time to Move In
5:30pm Dinner with Fr. Leavitt (the rector), Fr. Kulbicki (vice-rector), Fr. Brown (academic dean) and Students, Refectory
7pm New Seminarian Photos, Laubacher Hall
7:15pm Official Welcome by Fr. Leavitt, Fr. Kulbicki, Fr. Brown, "Spirituality of Seminary Life," St. Charles Chapel
8:30-10pm Social for New Seminarians, Donnelly Lounge
10pm Night Prayer, St. Charles Chapel

Friday, August 26th:
7:30AM Sulpician Meditation, Fr. Leavitt, Main Chapel
7:45am Morning Prayer with Explanation of Liturgy of the Hours, Fr. Perez, Main Chapel
9:30-10:30am Sulpician Formational Community, Fr. Leavitt & Fr. Kulbicki, Classroom 101D
10:30-10:45am Break
10:45-11:15am Pastoral Character of Seminary Formation, Fr. Leavitt & Fr. Couturier, Classroom 101D
11:30am Mass, Fr. Kulbicki, St. Charles Chapel
Lunch, Refectory
Free Time
4:30pm Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, Evening Prayer, Benediction, St. Charles Chapel, Dinner
Free Time
Donnelly Lounge open with complimentary beverages and snacks.
10pm Night Prayer, St. Charles Chapel

Saturday, August 27
7:30am Breakfast, Refectory
8:15am Morning Prayer, Main Chapel
8:30am Departure for Paca Street (original location of St. Mary's, now on Roland Ave.), Accompanied by Fr. Leavitt & Fr. Kulbicki, Main Entrance
Mass at Paca Street (in original chapel of St. Mary's)
Tour - Sulpician & Catholic Baltimore
Visit to Basilica of the Assumption
Depart for Historic Fells Point and Lunch
Departure for St. Mary's
4:45pm Rosary, Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes
Evening Prayer, St. Charles Chapel
Dinner, Refectory
7pm Sharing of Personal Vocation Stories, Student Team, St. Charles Chapel
Reflection & Solitude - Quiet time for Spiritual Reading and Prayer
Donnelly Lounge Closed

Sunday, August 28:
Breakfast, Refectory
9am Morning Prayer, "Formation According to Pastores Dabo Vobis," Fr. Leavitt, Main Library
11:30am Mass, Fr. Leavitt, St. Charles Chapel
Lunch, Refectory
1pm Practical Guidelines for Prayer, St. Charles Chapel, Fr. Leavitt
4:30pm Evening Prayer, St. Charles Chapel
5:30pm Cookout with the Seminary Faculty, Donnelly Patio
8pm "An Introduction to Baltimore," Donnelly Lounge
Donnelly Closes at 10pm

Monday, August 29:
Sulpician Meditation, Morning Prayer, Fr Leavitt, Main Chapel
Breakfast, Refectory
9am Library Orientation, Soraya Magalhaes-Wilson, Knott Library
10:15am COMPASS Testing, Library Computer Lab
11:30am Mass, St. Charles Chapel, Fr. Brown
Lunch, Refectory
1:15pm Academics, Fr. Philip Brown, S.S./Pat Grega, Room 101D
2:30pm Seminary Policies, Fr. Kulbicki, Room 101D
Final Free Time to Settle In
Returning Students Join the Community
5:45pm Evening Prayer, Main Chapel
6pm Welcome Back Crab Feast, Donnelly Patio
Donnelly Lounge Open As Ususal

Tuesday, August 30:
Morning Prayer, Main Chapel
8:15am Breakfast, Refectory
9am "Community Building at St. Mary's," Student/Faculty Roundtable, The Forum
10:30am Staying Healthy at St. Mary's, Fr. Stevens, Fitness Center
11:30am Community Retreat Begins with Mass of the Holy Spirit
Presider and Homilist: Fr. Leavitt, S.S.
12:15pm Lunch, Refectory
2pm Conference 1: Msgr. Robert Hartnett, Pastor, "Anniversary Reflections on Priesthood"
4:30pm Evening Prayer
Conference 2: Fr. Michael Barre, S.S., "The Divine Call and Duty of the Shepherd in the Bible"
5:30pm Dinner, Refectory
7:30pm Meditative Rosary on the Glorious Mysteries
Led by Fr. Paul Zilonka, C.P.
Quiet Time for Prayer and Reflection

Wednesday, August 31
Strict Silence Begins
Breakfast in silence, Refectory
9am Morning Prayer
Conference 3: Fr. Phillip Brown, "The Shepherd Who Brings Order and Reconciliation"
11:30am Mass
Presider: Fr. Brown
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament until Evening Prayer
12:15pm Lunch in silence, Refectory
2pm Extraordinary Confessors (priests from outside the seminary) Available for Sacrament of Reconciliation, Locations Posted
4:30pm Evening Prayer
Conference 4: Fr. Timothy Kulbicki, "The Shepherd and the Eucharist"
Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament
6pm Dinner in silence, Refectory
8pm Taize Meditative Prayer
Led by Fr. Corbin Eddy
Strict Silence Continues Through the Night

Thursday, September 1:
Breakfast in silence, Refectory
9am Morning Prayer
Conference 5: Fr. Philip Keane, S.S., "The Shepherd Who Leads by Example"
11:30am Conference 6: Fr. Gladstone Stevens, S.S., "Shepherds Formed by the Word"
Strict Silence Ends
12:15pm Lunch, Refectory
2pm Conference 7: Fr. Joseph Kitko, "Anniversary Reflections: The Shepherd and His Flock"
Quiet Time for Prayer and Reflection
4pm Covenant Liturgy (suits required)
Presider and Homilist: Fr. Leavitt, S.S.
5pm Social, Laubacher Hall
5:30pm Dinner, Refectory
Free Time

Now back to the blog :) Some other things you'll find interesting:

I couldn't wait to find out what my classes would be and finally found out yesterday. I know you're dying to know! They are:
History of Western Civ (pre-Theology guys have to take some Humanities and all Philosophy. After this year it will be all Theology classes)
Philosophical Anthropology
History of Philosophy I
Epistemology (the study of interpretation)
Intro to Catholic Theology I

And my required books are (Chris, I know you'll love these! - oh...BTW, the Rector, Fr. Leavitt, studied under Paul Ricoeur):
The Republic, The Laws, by Cicero
Nicomachean Ethics, by Aristotle
Introduction to Christianity, by then-Cardinal Ratzinger
Letters, Principal, Doctrines, and Vatican Sayings, by Epicurus
Confessions, by St. Augustine
Texts on Socrates, by Plato and Aristophanes
Dependent Rational Animals: Why Human Beings Need the Virtues, by Alasdair Macintyre
Hermeneutics, by Richard E. Palmer
A Primer on Postmodernism, by Stanley J. Grenz
The Republic, by Plato
Natural Right and History, by Leo Strauss
On the Genealogy of Morals and Ecce Homo by Friedrich Nietzsche
Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents (online here)
Catechism of the Catholic Church (online here)
I Will Give You Shepherds, Pastores Dabo Vobis (online here)
On the Relationship between Faith and Reason, Fides et Ratio (online here)
Western Civilization: Volume 1 to 1715, by Jackson J. Spielvogel
Five Dialogues: Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Meno, Phaedo, by Plato
Discourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophy, by Rene Descartes

I'm looking forward to the Strict Silence tomorrow so I can finish some spiritual reading I've started, pray, think,...and...sleep!

Things have been very busy, but I'm still looking foward to classes starting after Labor Day. This weekend there's a ton of cool stuff planned: trip to D.C. to see the Basilica, the JPII Institute, Gettysburg, a golf tournament, and an O-birds game. I'll update again Thursday night or Monday after the weekend. I've got some other info and thoughts to share...

Sedes sapientiae, ora pro nobis!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Queenship of Mary

Today is the Memorial of the Queenship of Mary.

Father, you have given us the mother of your Son to be our queen and mother. With the support of her prayers may we come to share the glory of your children in the kingdom of heaven. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Peter with the Keys, and Paul

Sunday, August 21, 2005


Well, I've got a few scattered thoughts and then back to packing! I'm leaving Wednesday for Baltimore with my dad and brother. Things are still as hectic as they have been, trying to get everything ready to go.

Thanks to Bryan for the head's up: Here's Pope Benedict's address to the seminarians at World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany.

And today's readings were awesome: Matt 16:18!

I may be away for a while, packing and moving and getting settled in at St. Mary's. I may post before I leave, but if not, it may not be till the 29th, when my room goes live on the network.

For now, enjoy the POD art :)

St. Mary, pray for us!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Do not be afraid

I was thinking of the stresses I mentioned in my previous post and I found Fr. Paul's homily for Sunday Aug 7th. It was very comforting.

Homily for Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 7, 2005

Today’s Scripture readings, from the Gospel of Matthew and the 1st book of Kings, portray a common theme for us: what is it to have faith in God? In our first reading, Elijah the prophet climbs Mount Sinai, also called Horeb, seeking the presence of the Lord. In the Gospel of Matthew, we hear about the apostles in a boat on the sea of Galilee.

Both the apostles and Elijah experience the miraculous power of God: one in a dramatic way - Jesus walking on the water, and one in a rather murky way - God appearing in a whisper.

While there are many differences in these two experiences, there is one common theme that links these two diverse stories: faith.

The prophet’s life was a difficult one. Being given the mighty task of proclaiming God’s word - a word that was often unwelcome by the powerful - helped to make one a lot of enemies. Every single prophet mentioned in the Old Testament, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Elijah, and all the others, lost their lives because of their mission. So for Elijah, as he fled from the powerful and hid from those who wanted to take his life, faith must have seemed to him all that he had.

The apostles were in a somewhat different position. During the time of Jesus’ life and ministry, the apostles were engaged in a struggle to have this faith. Faith in God; faith in His Son Jesus. They had enough faith to accept His invitation to come and follow Him, but not enough faith yet to accept the mission He was going to be giving to them after His resurrection.

The apostles and Elijah are symbolic for you and me at various points in our life. Sometimes we have the faith of Elijah, prepared to boldly live out our faith in God, to make the sacrifices in life that faith demands of us. And Sometimes we have the faith of the apostles in today’s gospel: hesitant; afraid; confused. Sometimes we see our mission in life with clarity and understanding, sometimes with doubt and uncertainty.

What is common to both the stories of Elijah and the apostles is a continual reaching out to God for safety and understanding.

Our lives can oftentimes seem like the sea in today’s gospel reading. Sometimes we are right there in the boat with the apostles, being tossed about by the sea in darkness and despair. Sometimes the storms of this life seem to overwhelm us, other times we have the confidence of Elijah, ready to face anything that comes our way.

What is essential for us in both of these times is to do exactly what the characters do in today’s scripture readings: we must seek out the presence of God. Our readings this weekend make clear to us that God is present in every moment of life, perhaps most especially in times when we doubt or struggle.

When the forces of this life seem to be stacked against us: when everything seems to be holding us back, we must seek out God’s presence all the more. In the death of a loved one, when we face a serious illness ourselves, when we face the loss of job or home or whatever else, when we are tempted to think that we are all alone, we must challenge ourselves to recognize the presence of God with us.

In our gospel reading today Peter began to sink when he left the boat. At the moment that he began to focus more on the waves and the storm, and less on the presence of Christ with him, he begins to go under. The very same is true for us. When we begin to focus on the hardships of this life more than on the presence of Christ with us, we begin to sink into despair and hopelessness.

So as we celebrate this Eucharist today, let us recognize the presence of Christ with His Church. Let us focus only on Him, so that as we leave here and go out into the world, we may have the courage and faith of the prophet. When we face the challenges and storms of this life, let us remember the words of Christ: "take courage, it is I; do not be afraid."

Fr. Paul Beach

The soul rejoices in the Lord

he Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.

The last week or so has been a blizzard of stress, trying to tie up 50 million lose ends before I go off to seminary. Before I get into it though: biretta tip to Bryan for his charitable advice regarding my post on the Assumption. Just in case anyone may have misunderstood me, I should make it clear that I mean in no way to imply or encourage a spirit of disobedience. It would have been better to encourage my dear readers to embrace the Solemnity with prayer and holiness even though it wasn't technically an Obligation.

The Assumption started the week off well enough, but I've been stressed and tired ever since. I've had to settle all these little tasks like buying plane tickets for my dad and brother to fly back from Baltimore, get my student loan deferred, settle my benefits and exit stuff for work, finish work projects and websites for my uncle and the vocation office, buy new glasses and contacts, meet friends, priests, and family for going-away dinners, take my car in to get worked on, go to a doctor's appointment, change all my addresses, renew my registration, etc...you get the point.

I look back on the week and wish I had spent more time on preparing myself for seminary with prayer and fasting and the Liturgy of the Hours and Mass. But, the overwhelming support I've been shown over the last week has been very helpful and encouraging. I sent my farewell email to the whole office today at work and got many replies of thanks and encouragement (and from many people who I didn't know were Catholics!). My team is throwing me a big going-away BBQ after work tomorrow. I also served one last time at the Cathedral and got a special blessing from Father. Everyone at daily Mass made a point to congratulate me afterwards. One gentleman even shared that because of "personal problems" he was turned away from seminary and wished he could have continued down that road. He gave me his card and told me to contact him if I ever needed financial assistance. He even said he'd be hurt if he found out I needed help and didn't tell him!

My brother Knights have been very generous as well and even instructed me to contact them if I needed more! I think my spiritual director's council and the Secular Franciscans may help as well. And my good friend Josh even bought me a computer!

I was so worried about how I was going to pay for my car payment and insurance but so many friends and family have stepped forward on their own accord expressing a willingness to help. I feel so very blessed and fortunate.

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
...the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
(Luke 1:46-49)

Friday, August 12, 2005

The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is Monday, August 15th. So in honor of this feast I will be silent on this blog until Tuesday. Don't forget to attend Mass on Monday, it's a Holy Day of Obligation, I don't care what the bishops say! ;) Let's prove them wrong, that we really are responsible and care enough to go to Mass on a weekday and that the precept to attend Mass does not have to be "abrogated" for us!

Let Us Pray: All-powerful and ever-living God, you raised the sinless Virgin Mary, mother of your Son, body and soul to the glory of heaven. May we see heaven as our final goal and come to share her glory. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns wth you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Regina Caeli, Ora Pro Nobis.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

August's Magnificat

I love getting the Magnificat every month. Not only does it have a few reflections in the beginning, the readings, morning prayer, evening prayer, and a reflection for each day and the Order of Mass, it also details and explains a different artistic masterpiece at the end of each issue. This month's was The Dormition of Mary and the Nativity of Jesus, mosaics, from the twelfth century, church of Martorana, Palermo, Sicily, Italy.

Notice the Son's descent to earth and the rise of Mary's soul to Heaven, the Mother carries the Son and the Son carries the Mother, and the positions of Mother and Son reversed. Beautiful.

seminarian retreat part 2

Aside from the scandal expressed here, the retreat was enjoyable and relaxing, despite all the running around I had to do, trying to work during the day and stay at the lake house during the night. A couple nights we had a bonfire and a rousing discussion of The Mission that a few of us watched together. Great movie...but I'm still not sure what to make of it. I think Fr. Gabriel (Jeremy Irons) had the most virtuous response. Despite the greed and contempt of the Portuguese, I could not bring myself to side with Rodrigo Mendoza (Robert De Niro) or even appreciate his resistence at all. His breaking of vows, seeming vengeance and the way he takes up arms, as a priest, with the Guarani Indians completely turned me off. Even in self-defense, taking another's life must be a last resort. I hope that if I was in the same situation I'd have the same courage as Fr. Gabriel, embracing the Church militant, and opposing agression with none other than our Lord himself in Eucharistic procession. There were several Romero undertones: a hint of liberation theology, religious subordinates resorting to violence, confronting violence with peace and the Eucharist, etc. See here, one of my favorite sites, for an excellent review.

Anyway, back to the retreat. It was good being able to hang out with Michael and I'm looking forward to studying with him at St. Mary's. We joke that Louisville's "taking over"! haha :) All the guys were great and I was glad to get to know them better. And the house and my room were very comfortable. Sounds of the crickets and the train tracks nearby brought good sleep.

Yesterday afternoon we took pictures as a group with the Archbishop and then had a huge luncheon with the Serra Club. I didn't realize how numerous they are! There were several priests from the Archdiocese there too, which I was glad to see. And I even got to meet a Dominican brother who I'd met through a friend and who has given me much good advice over the last few months on discernment. He invited me to drop by the Dominican House of Studies in D.C. some time. To top it all off, the venerable Archbishop Maloney was there as well. What a blessing!

I hope to post a picture on here soon.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

seminarian retreat part 1

Right now I'm on the Archdiocese's End-of-Summer Retreat for Seminarians at a beautiful lake house of the Sisters of Mercy in Crestwood, KY. It started Sunday and goes till Wednesday afternoon when we'll take pictures and have a luncheon with the Serra Club.

Yesterday and today, two priests came to talk to us about their ministry and experiences. I missed one yesterday because I had to go buy a suit for the picture tomorrow and I missed both today because I had to work. The one I was able to be at yesterday was from the pastor at Epiphany, regarded by people from all over the spectrum as being probably second only to St. William in it's progressivness.

I squirmed in my chair a little bit but I didn’t say anything, I didn't feel like it was the right time or place. Long story short: I was fairly scandalized. He went into great detail about how he invites divorced, gays, non-Catholics, and non-Christians up to communion and when his associate pastor says Mass he sits in the congregation making sure everyone goes. He also talked about how he doesn’t like weekly confession times, instead they have monthly communal confession where families at a time will come up, all confess their sins together, he lays hands on each of them and gives them all absolution at once. And it’s not just venial sins they confess, he’s heard abortion and other grave sins in this manner as well. He also said that he has no authority there whatsoever, instead they have over 150 committees that manage every aspect of the parish. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

It depressed me somewhat and I indulged my introversion for the rest of the day...

Thursday, August 04, 2005

St. John Vianney, pray for us

Today is the Memorial of St. John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests. I have implored his intercession often throughout this whole application process and would like to take the time now to thank him for his prayers that I'm sure were instrumental in my being accepted. How Providential it is that I would be entering seminary the same month as his memorial!

St. John Vianney, holy parish priest, thank you for your prayers and I beg you to continue to pray for me that Our Lord will allow me to be a priest, and a man, after your own example.

St. John Baptist Mary Vianney, pray for us.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

cards from Sister

Today was this month's Vocation Office planning meeting. We're planning our Dinner with the Archbishop, a night of prayer, vocation talks, etc in order to promote vocations. Sr. Joseph Marie from the Little Sisters of the Poor (who I love!) gave me a wonderful card of congratulations.

Like I said here, the more my Lord gives me to His Mother, the closer she leads me back to Him. I've noticed her in my life much more lately. The pics with this post are of the card Sister gave me. It's a card from the Marianists with three prayers and a certificate stating "Perpetual Membership in the Marianist Spiritual Alliance has been conferred upon Matt Hardesty who will share forever in the Masses, Prayers, and Good Works of the Marianists. May Our Lord and Mary, His Mother, send you good fortune, contentment, and peace. And my all your blessings forever increase. Requested by Little Sisters of the Poor. Signed Brother Ronald L. Overman, S.M. Director" (You can see the card here.)

Cool! I've never heard of this group before! Have you all?

Anyway, it's a beautiful card and I'm very appreciative. Here are the prayers inside:

God loves me... and calls me by name.
God sees me and understands me,
knows what is in me,
all my thoughts and feelings,
my likes and dislikes,
my strengths and my weaknesses.
God sees me in my day of joy
and in my day of sorrow,
sympathizes with my hopes
and my temptations.
God is interested in my anxieties and memories,
all the ups and downs of my life.
God encompasses me and carries me.
God sees me,
whether I'm smiling or in tears,
looks tenderly upon me,
hears my voice, the beating of my heart,
and my very breathing.
No one could ever love me
as much as God loves me.
God's love is today, tomorrow... and forever!

May the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit be glorified in all places through the Immaculate Virgin Mary
-- A Favorite Prayer of Father Chaminade, Founder

Lord, let me take each day
as coming from you
To give it back to you
with your Will complete.
And, dear Lord,
let me be kind.
Let me never be discouraged
or feel sorry for myself,
Because you stand beside me
-- every day.

Sister also gave me a couple of cards with nice messages from some of the residents at their retirement home! One of them even had a message from the great Bishop Maloney!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

pic with Jeff Cavins

Here's a pic with Jeff Cavins, Laura, and I with Danielle in front; taken at the Frassati Society Conference I mentioned here and here.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Justice and Simplicity

Justice and Simplicity
A priest is concerned about justice in society and lives a simple life. What does this mean to you?

While full acceptance of the authority of the Church brings us true liberation and freedom, so too does a life of simplicity and humility. A quote I recently discovered from St. Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises presents the ideal approach:

Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul.
The other things on the face of the earth are created for man to help him in attaining the end for which he is created.
Hence, man is to make use of them in as far as they help him in the attainment of his end, and he must rid himself of them in as far as they prove a hindrance to him.
Therefore, we must make ourselves indifferent to all created things, as far as we are allowed free choice and are not under any prohibition. Consequently, as far as we are concerned, we should not prefer health to sickness, riches to poverty, honor to dishonor, a long life to a short life. The same holds for all other things.
Our one desire and choice should be what is more conducive to the end for which we are created.

I think we find true freedom when, rather than having the objects we have own us, we own them and can choose to use them to glorify God. A simple life is one free from those things that distract us from living a life of holiness and helping others find holiness as well. Depriving ourselves of those things that make us comfortable and lazy on this mission can help us to refocus our attention on Christ and rely on him for our well-being. But at the same time, one can live a simple life, even if he has many possessions as long as these have their proper place in a balanced life of sacrifice and service to others. Justice is established in society when man is completely free to “praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord” and work to ensure that his neighbor has this freedom as well. This is justice and simplicity together for the glory of God.

Prayer, Celibacy, and Obedience

A priest is a man of prayer. Describe your daily and weekly devotional prayer life.

All my life I have gone to weekly Mass, but for the past year I have been blessed to be able to go to daily Mass as well, as it is only a couple blocks from where I work. About every other day I pray morning prayer after daily Mass in the Eucharistic Chapel of Louisville’s Cathedral of the Assumption.
Every other Saturday I go to Confession at St. Louis Bertrand in Louisville, which has been an immense blessing because the parish also offers the Rosary and Adoration during this time, followed by Mass. I do a separate Holy Hour individually about once a month. In addition, I pray a Holy Hour for vocations once a month with Men in Black, the Archdiocesan vocation discernment group. Lastly, I stay one weekend a month with my spiritual director, serving 4 Masses over the weekend, and attending a Holy Hour and Confession as well.Personally, I have a devotion to St. Michael the Archangel, my Confirmation saint, who I turn to often in times of stress or temptation. I also wear the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel which has given me much comfort and is a constant reminder for me to generously accept God’s Will as our Blessed Mother did. Finally, I like to pray various short ejaculatory prayers throughout the day as the good and bad moments of each day require.

A priest commits himself to chaste celibacy for the Kingdom of God. The Church’s teachings on sexuality, chastity and celibacy are clearly stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. What are the implications of these teachings for you to chaste celibacy as a seminarian and priest?

I once read that celibacy is not something you just accept, it is something you choose. I believe it must be something you openly, freely, and joyfully choose for yourself or it is in danger of not being what it is meant to be: a liberating life of complete self-giving to the life of the Church for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. I fully accept celibacy as part of the identity of the priest and I accept the Church’s teaching on this special gift and calling from God. I am eager to learn more about celibacy, to be formed in its associated virtues of purity, chastity, humility, fidelity, generosity and temperance, and to take on this particular part of Christ’s identity as I strive to be more like Him in every way. I pray that after seminary formation and ultimately ordination, my heart will more closely resemble the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. These are my inspirations now as I work toward a more perfect chastity and celibacy.

A priest commits himself to obedience to his bishop. What do religious authority and obedience mean to you?

I highly respect the authority in the Church present in the papacy, the Magisterium, the bishops, and the local pastors. These figures of authority were established by Christ himself to lead and guide us to all Truth. Rather than stifle our personal freedom, they actually liberate us completely by guiding us to live to our fullest potential and to realize the truest versions of ourselves. Through their guidance, we can gradually come to live as Christ intended, in complete harmony with him and in freedom from the tyranny of our passions and the evil of this world that tries to keep us in bondage to sin. I gladly accept the Will of the Father expressed through the direction of my local bishop, and I strive to more fully conform myself to the Truths of Christ in the Church.

Ministry of the Sacraments and Shepherding

Ministry of the Sacraments
The priest leads the community in prayer and sacramental worship, especially the Eucharist. Liturgical life is central to his identity. What does this aspect of the priest’s ministry mean to you?

This aspect of the priest’s ministry is what means the most to me. I am constantly amazed at how high a privilege it is for a man, ordained in the Catholic Church, to stand in the person of Christ at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Here the ordained priest participates in Christ’s own and same priesthood re-presenting the Last Supper and the Crucifixion for the perpetual sanctification of the faithful. I am extremely humbled by the notion that I could study for such a ministry, let alone participate in it.
Another Sacrament that means much to me is the Sacrament of Confession. Being able to minister to someone’s soul in such an intimate way, to be Christ’s instrument to reconcile the faithful to Himself and His Church, and to counsel them in the virtues necessary to live a life free from the clutches of sin has all done much to attract me to the priesthood as well.
Working with Christ through the sacramental and liturgical life of the Church to be His agent of Grace to a world in need is a life that means much to me and one that I highly honor and respect.

Ministry of Shepherding
The priest as a pastor also leads a community of faith. Caring for a community and the individuals that make it up is a fundamental part of his life. What does priestly leadership mean to you, and what leadership ability do you have?

I am inspired by the way that the Church has adapted to use new technologies from T.V. to movies, to message boards to extend her guidance and direction to the faithful in their daily lives. But these technologies are also being used by those who would like to pose as guides and mislead the faithful. Therefore, I feel it is important that pastors not only use these technologies themselves, to counterbalance these forces, but also effectively draw the community of faith into the liturgical and sacrament life of the Church were he can lead them more fully and formally. It is important that the pastor work hard to make sure his flock is securely anchored to the parish, its primary source of guidance and direction outside the family, which is a person’s most immediate “church.” Here he leads them to prayer, reconciliation, holiness, and ultimately eternal happiness with God in Heaven. I myself have grown much in my spiritual life through the leadership of the local and global Church and I would be honored to lead others in this way. Lastly, I highly respect and appreciate the hierarchical structure of Church leadership, guidance, and government.
I have been blessed with opportunities to do my own small part in leading others toward a closer relationship with each other, Christ, and His Church. I have been the “Spiritual Chairman” along with a friend of mine for the young adult group at my parish, Ministry of Catholic Adults (M.O.C.A). I, along with another friend, started and led a Catholic Scripture Study group at my parish as well. We have done nine-month studies on the Gospel of John and the Book of Exodus and are preparing for one on the Book of Revelation. Finally I have been on the planning committee for five seasons of Theology on Tap as well as the planning committee with the Vocation Office of the Archdiocese of Louisville.These activities have shown me that I am able to come up with new ideas for guiding the faithful in the journey toward Christ, develop these ideas unto fruition, and then lead them accordingly. I also have the courage to accept leadership opportunities that are presented to me if I feel doing so could benefit the group or help me in my own growth. Similarly, I have the courage to decline them as well if such opportunities create an unbalance between an active and contemplative prayer life in the Church. Finally, through each of the activities I listed above, I’ve been able to inspire others to pursue their leadership potential to take my place as I pursue discernment of the priesthood in seminary.

Ministry of the Word

The votes are in! I'll post my essays one or two at a time. These were kinda hard for me cause I hate spotlighting myself. Please feel free to comment. First, Ministry of the Word:

Ministry of the Word.
The primary role of the priest in the Church is as an evangelizer, a teacher, and preacher. What gifts, interest in, and readiness for this aspect of the priest’s ministry do you feel you possess?

I have had a sustained passion for learning and defending the faith ever since my senior year in college when I began to grow in my faith. I enjoy Catholic research and apologetics as a hobby and have gotten much fulfillment from participating in various activities that have given me the opportunity to share the faith. These include several young adult ministries like the popular Theology on Tap program, Catholic student programs, young adult scripture studies and parish-based young adult groups. I have enjoyed working to do my part in the “new evangelization” called for by our late Holy Father to spread an ancient but relevant faith to a contemporary culture by contemporary means. By writing a young adult column for the Archdiocesan newspaper The Record, participating in Catholic apologetics message boards, and developing online calendars and email lists I feel blessed to have been able to use both old and new media to reach out to my peers and to the Archdiocese at large. All of these have helped me see that I’ve been gifted by God to be able to communicate and articulate the faith in many different ways whereas some may feel comfortable only in writing, others only in speaking. Regardless of the medium, I am comfortable sharing the truths of the Church with others. I also see that I am able to retain what I research and then share it with charity and love. Different aspects of Christian theology just come to mind whenever I need them. These gifts have born in me a longing to formally preach to the Church and to the world. I want to follow in the deep tradition in the Church of preachers who have cut through the ignorance and confusion of their time with the Truth and Love that makes man free. I am thankful that the Holy Spirit has used me as an instrument to share the faith. I’m thankful that He has given me such interests and I wish to glorify Him by further pursuing and developing them.

the conference

Well, the Frassati Conference was awesome as usual! It's always so inspiring to see so many young adults together at once conference. The theme for the weekend was suffering and how to give our suffering meaning. Jeff Cavins gave three pretty emotional talks as he talked about his own suffering and conversion and trouble having children with his wife. Joan Ulicny also gave two powerful talks about once being a big time IBM exec, having a head-on collision with a 16-wheeler, overcoming a coma, stroke, and relearning how to speak and do basic math, and her own conversion toward redemptive suffering and running the Boston marathon!

The seminarians (17 of 'em!) for the diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana are a great group of guys. I got to stay with 4 or 5 of them. Most of them are going to either the Josephenum, Mt. St. Mary's, or the Ken-Glen (as I like to call it). They were very hospitible and seemed glad to have me for the weekend. Since everybody at the conference was uber-orthodox I felt awkward having to tell everyone that St. Mary's in Baltimore, MD (with it's "Pink Palace" reputation of the late 80's well-known) isn't the same as Mount St. Mary's in Emmittsburg, MD.

With all the seminarians serving, Mass was beautiful! They joined the opening procession, processed up the gifts, processed up the communcants (which start at the back), all knelt in front of the altar during the Eucharistic prayer, and processed out together at the end. They incensed the altar, the crucifux, the gospel, the gifts and the Eucharist at set times throughout the Mass. It was awesome.