Thoughts from a young theologian

Archive for November, 2010

Of meese and men

So as much as I’d like to continue my little discussion on the Eucharist, this week has just had way too much stuff happening that I can talk about that I’ll postpone the continuation of what I was learning later on. Suffice it to say that we WEREN’T told that the Eucharist is not the body and blood of Christ, it is truly, really, completely and sacramentally Him. The sacramental aspect of the Eucharist is one that I hadn’t heard before and found super interesting. Don’t go running off somewhere saying we’re learning heresies up at the abbey because all of that was St. Thomas Aquinas. Hehehehhehee just to be clear… c”,)

Anyway, among the many things we did this week, one of them was on Friday, most of the majors seminary went out to see the Manitoba Moose play the Abbotsford Heat. Even though the Heat were technically the home team, I’d say a lot of people in the crowd were cheering for the Moose. For those who don’t know, the Manitoba Moose are the farm team of the Vancouver Canucks, the city’s NHL team while the Heat are the farm team of one of the Canucks most hated rivals, the Calgary Flames. Farm teams are basically where they send the young hockey players they’ve drafted to give them more experience before hitting the big leagues. Basically, we were seeing the Baby Canucks take on the Baby Flames. I took a few pictures of the event that I’ll try and sprinkle into this post.

Of the 25 or so major seminarians, I think about 23 of us came for a nice little break from studies and a little bit of community time away from the monastery. Being so many, when we cheered together, we were definitely heard. Some of the guys, during the game started screaming “Go meese!!!” (the plural of moose…. duh!!) Lots of people didn’t get it. The gem of the evening though was when our group was put up on the huge screen above the rink and dead center, prominently seen was one of us (he who will not be named) using one of those giant red abbotsford heat hands to pick his nose. SCK represented!! (Kyrie Eleison… :p) It was so funny!!! The only bad thing in the evening was the fact that the meese lost in the shootout…

Also this past week, I’ve been working as the MC. Basically, my job was to assist the priest during the mass. I’d stand right beside him turning the pages, helping him to find the prayers to use, etc… It was actually a pretty cool job and because the doctor figured out that my problem was bronchitis and he gave me the medicines to fight it, I was steadily feeling better each day as I was MC.

The other big thing that happened this weekend was the fact that the liturgical year ended. Entering into the new year with advent is a time of so much change here in the abbey. The vestments change, most of the prayers (especially the ones that took me a couple of months to finally start getting used to) changed, the food is slowly starting to change… And in Rome, Pope Benedict asked that as many as possible celebrate a vigil for prolife. The Saturday night, in Rome, he celebrated a special vespers for the cause of life. Here at the abbey, we did something to be united with Rome too and from what I heard from the monks, what we did has likely never been done in the long history of the Benedictine community out here. We exposed and adored the blessed sacrament for the whole night. Apparently, the latest the monks have ever gone was midnight before they would have had benediction and bedtime. And I really don’t blame them because after that particular night and the fact that I went for my favorite holy hour time ever (3 am), I was so exhausted the next day because I had, once again, to wake up super early… That being said though, I’d love it if we had overnight adorations more often. 🙂

The Sunday was again a pretty busy day as a group of us seminarians went over to the cathedral to serve mass for the archbishop. It was the university students mass, which I was so happy to make because, including this year, I’ve been to it in all 3 years it’s been held. Hehehehhe

Now I know that some of the guys reading this blog were there too so I really hope I was able to surprise you guys. My role in the mass was to carry the bishop’s mitre – his big hat. I think I looked okay carrying it and if you were at the mass, let me know what you thought (if I looked okay serving) because I’ll let you in on a little secret. There was one very bad idea that happened, not even during the mass but on the way there and it definitely impacted the way I was serving. That bad idea was sparked by the fact that McDonalds had free coffee that week. So of course, being as cheap as we were, we stopped by a McDonalds and bought 3 large double doubles for each of us in the car for free. Now, anyone who drinks coffee knows that while coffee does keep you awake, there is something else that it does. It’s a diuretic!! So right at the beginning of the homily, I felt like I wanted to go to the bathroom. But of course, I’m all dressed up in a chasuble and surplice and I’m even wearing those funky purple things that you use to touch the mitre. Of course it’s not proper to get ones grubby hands on it… Hehehehehe

There was that plus the fact that I was maybe a little too proud to excuse myself (and get seriously ridiculed by the others afterwards) and too worried that I might be absent for something I’d need to be at so guess what I did… Hehehehehe I waited. And it got harder and harder as the mass went on. As soon as mass was over, I ran right into the sacristy… Hehehehehe But despite all that, did you suspect anything? Hehehhehehehehe didn’t think so!! 🙂

This particular picture of these two seminarians is funnier if you know the personality of either of these two.

So that’s all I want to say for tonight. If any of you guys are free this weekend, you should totally come out to our advent program. It’s only really open to family and some friends of seminarians so you’ll get a small look at what the seminary and to some extent, monastery community is like. Let me know if you’re interested!! It’s this Sunday at 2 pm! God bless!!

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The Eucharist–not the “real” body and blood of Jesus?

I mentioned a few days ago how I was so surprised by the guys who, despite the freezing cold, still managed to play hockey. With the wind too, they had to chase the ball all around as it moved on its own… It was actually pretty hilarious to see, although I immediately went back inside to stay warm… Heheheheheh

Well, for the first time this week, something happened that actually prevented the others from their precious hockey…

It was actually pretty hilarious!! It’s been snowing like crazy here at the abbey, pretty much the whole day so while I’m explaining my little heretical (or is it?) statement up above, I’ll kind of sprinkle in some pictures of the snow here.

So this actually came up during my philosophy class… We were discussing substances and accidents… For those who don’t know philosophy, a substance is something that has existence in itself, like a man, or a tree. An accident is something that we predicate off of substances and don’t exist on their own. There are 9 kinds of accidents for Aristotle, including quantity (like 1, 2, 3), quality (red, big), relation (double, half), etc… None of these exist without substances… You always say a red something, one something… they need something in order to exist. Basically, everything is either a substance or an accident.

Aristotle also calls some things artifacts–these are things like houses and boats that are made by man. They exist kind of like substances, but in reality they’re not because artifacts have their identity and purpose outside of it (in the mind of the person who built it). That’s all a weird way of getting started on the Eucharist. A question came up during the class about the eucharist. Bread is an artifact, being made by man and made up of different substances, like wheat, etc…

Well in answering it, Father Peter said something that made our heads all turn. He said that once the bread is transubstantiated in the Eucharist, it has one identity. It becomes the sacramental body and blood of Jesus, not the real body and blood of Jesus. The key thing is a sacrament always has a sign value–it always has an inner reality that is signified. It’s a symbol but it’s not just a symbol… it’s a symbol that makes the reality present.

There’s basically 3 kinds of realities according to St. Thomas Aquinas… There’s the earthly reality, the heavenly reality and … the sacramental reality. They’re all real and have very different ways of existing. The sacramental reality is its own separate ontology–it’s its own kind of being.

Suppose Father Peter is celebrating mass and at the moment of consecration, the bread disappears and the heavenly Jesus appears in front of everyone surrounded by his angels and standing on the altar, then it would be a heavenly real presence, on longer a sacramental real presence. There’s no sign anymore, it’s only the reality of what the sign signifies.

An exception also happens when we have the eucharistic miracles where the bread is turned to real flesh or the blood turned into real blood. Those are no longer sacraments either. It’s pointing again to the reality of what the sign signifies… Any sacrament, but most especially the Eucharist always needs to be a sign as well as the reality it signifies.

How’s that for some food for thought… If this kind of interested you, you can check out the book “The Key to the Doctrine of the Eucharist” by Ansgar Vonier. He’s highly recommended by Fr. Peter and the monks here. I’m going to definitely start reading up on that one too… There’s something else I want to say about the Eucharist but I don’t want this post to be too long so I’ll leave it for a little later on… God bless!!!


Sacristans, Seminarians & Snow

Just like in most other places in the lower mainland this week, we had a very cold abbey in Mission too. The other day in fact, it snowed up here.

It didn’t help me get better but it was just really fun to see some of my fellow seminarians, particularly the ones who are so used to having snow in the winter, run outside and start frolicking. Hehhehhhehehe Also, because we’re situated in the middle of a valley, we’ve got a ton of wind blowing through us too. So if it’s -1 out, with the wind, it ends up being closer to -6, -7. But that didn’t stop some of the guys from doing what they loved best though.

I couldn’t believe it… That particular day, it was soooo cold out that even by holding my camera out for just a little bit with my bare hands, I felt they would fall off. I needed to get a picture though to prove to you how crazy some of us actually are… Hehehehehe nothing will EVER stop hockey here!!

This week as well, I was the sacristan for the masses. I was in charge of getting everything ready for mass and cleaning everything up afterwards. We have about 4 different chalices that we use for daily mass and I had to rotate its use to make sure we used all four of them during the week. We have soooo much wine here, it’s pretty crazy. We need so much of it for mass though but wow!! The monks must but it all in bulk. I also had to set up the hosts and make sure that we had enough for us plus all the visitors. It seemed to me though that we had more people over for morning mass this week because of the study week most of the diocesan priests had. Now, the monks here actually have two masses each day. They have one early mass at 6:30 am for the whole community and everyone who comes and one earlier one at 6:30 am for the older monk priests o have a harder time celebrating mass in front of everyone. I kinda have to set up for both so it’s definitely a bit of work. I’m lucky to have a nice but grumpy (sometimes hehehehhe) boss in Vince who always leaves some food for me at breakfast for when I finish.

This week, I’m the MC!! More on that next time! We had steak today after the monks again slaughtered the fattened calf to celebrate the solemnity of Christ the King!! Happy feastday and God bless!!!