Thoughts from a young theologian

Friends, Roman (Catholics), Countrymen!!!

Sorry for the lack of updates thus far. It’s been, as usual incredibly busy here at the abbey as our school year is slowly but surely winding down. This coming week is our last full one of classes and following that, it will be the beginning of Holy Week and exams! Ouch…

Speech Contest:

As promised, I have for you a quick update on the elocution contest from last Sunday. It’s amazing though how much has happened since then so I’ll try and post a follow up to this as soon as I can. Anyway, as I mentioned before, five of us had made it all the way to the finals for the elocution contest with a range of topics that go from dissuading the use of fluorescent lightbulbs to the importance of chastity. My particular topic was on the appropriate use of Facebook, especially among Catholics today. Just like the other finalists, I spent a considerable amount of time practicing for this but was always trying to find a good balance between this and all the other projects that needed to get done during the week. We were all extremely nervous during the day of the event… hheheehhe sometimes, I guess, the hype of the event itself especially within all three communities here (monks, majors and minors) gets pushed up so much that there’s quite a bit of pressure felt by the finalists to do well and put on a good show. And there’s more people in our audience because the parents (mostly of the minors) come by to visit their kids as well during that day. Though our speeches are the main event, we are nevertheless accompanied by the majors choir, Quasimodo (literally translated from the Latin: as if…) the minors band, and the minors schola choir.

I was the fourth to have to go and present my speech and from hearing what the other guys had done before me, I was sooooooo nervous. It’s not as if I hadn’t either spoken in front of a large audience before but it doesn’t matter whether I’m in front of a big crowd or in front of a small group, I always inevitably get nervous. What made this most difficult was that the speeches had to be memorized as well so when one combines nerves and memory, it definitely does not bode well for memory. I was doing fairly well in the delivery of my speech when towards the end, I forgot a quote from Pope Benedict. I stumbled along trying to get it back and was so stressed out about it that I forgot how my conclusion went. So I had one tiny paragraph left to go when suddenly, it wasn’t there. I stood on the spot in front of everyone frozen in silence. There was a huuuuge urge in me to want to just walk off and end it there but there was also a part of me that was telling me that the message I was giving was important enough to end it well. I was frozen for about 10 seconds, uncertain about what to do. From the corner of my eye, I saw Fr. Abbot looking at me, mouthing out the words calm down… So I took a deep breath and suddenly, there it was! The ending of my speech!!! I finished and walk off the stage partly relieved but also partly upset at myself for having messed up. I just kept telling myself that at least I had gotten the message out there but that whole ending colored my whole impression of how I had done during the entire thing.

You can imagine my tremendous surprise when it was announced that I somehow came in second despite all of that. The judges had not taken any marks off from the forgotten quote or from the veeeery long pause because according to them, these things happen, especially when one uses relatively long quotes and it’s not so much about that it has happened but how one responds to it when it does. That I was able to recover from it turned out really well for me in the end… The winner for the whole contest was Peter, a seminarian from Olympia, Washington. His speech topic was on the acceptable use of animal testing which he addressed in a very funny but convincing sort of way. All in all, it was a great experience…

Spirit Week:

This week was also a very special one because it marked the beginning of a long-standing tradition here in the seminary of “Spirit Week.” Spirit Week is a time of preparation for our annual sports day, which we held yesterday. What do we prepare for you ask? Well, the following story may give you some insights to what we do and why we call the whole thing “Spirit Week.”

On Friday, I had to quickly drive down to Canadian Tire to pick up some supplies for my team. I bought three cans of spray paint and two HUGE rolls of duct tape!! The clerk saw all my duct tape and inquisitively asked what I needed all the duct tape for… “We’re building a cardboard boat made of just cardboard and duct tape that we’ll be racing across a little lake tomorrow…” Hehehehhehehe she just looked at me kind of stunned… 😛 But there’s more… we not only have to build a boat that will actually float, it will also have to be well decorated and in line with whatever theme our group chooses. In addition, we have to also prepare a big display for our team (Whatever that display is is of our own choosing) and a skit for the opening ceremonies which were on Friday afternoon. Who says seminarians are not fun?

My team was called the Vaticannons and so, being themed after the Vatican, we built a huge replica of the obelisk outside St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome as well as a massive yellow and white flag (made by joining together I don’t know how many table cloths). We built a boat with, what else but an actual functioning cannon!!! Hehehehehehe But I think I’ve gone on a little too much for today. I’ll continue on this story more sometime during the week. Happy Sunday and God bless!!!


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