Thoughts from a young theologian

Back in the World


I had been warned about it but it’s only really been hitting home over the past few days. The most difficult time for any seminarian, I think, is not the week of exams, as stressful as that may be. It’s not Lent, as difficult as it may be to keep up with all those sacrifices. It’s not even our infamous sports day, as painful as it is to run around the whole day and “have fun.” The most difficult time is really the summer. I wonder how many vocations are made and broken during the summer time? It’s surprised me so much how much more difficult it is to keep up a life of prayer, chastity and self-denial when away from the protective confines of Westminster Abbey!!

Out there, we really are, in a sense, in our own Catholic world. We live in community, support each other in all our endeavors, pray together and share everything with each other. We live such a structured life in there, getting up at the same time, eating at the same time, praying at the same time. There, our only worries are the exams and papers that are coming up and those aren’t even that stressful, really, because away from all the distractions of the world in general, it’s definitely much easier to find time to read, study and pray. Not to mention the prayerful atmosphere of the Benedictine abbey, its peace, serenity, etc.

I’ve only been back here for a little over a week and I’m already starting to miss the slower, more prayerful pace of seminary life. I’m missing the beautiful, albeit super early morning masses, the sung vespers, the chant. Sigh… It is difficult to be a faithful Catholic Christian in this world. We really really need to belong to faithful communities just in order to survive, I think. I guess that’s the challenge today for my generation… to build up that community.

The big thing this week was a taizé prayer service at a local Vancouver Protestant Church, St. Andrews Wesley. Taize, for those who aren’t familiar with it is an ecumenical community based in a little village in France that bears the same name. Every year, particularly during the summertime, they host close to 5000 young adults from all denominations and all walks of life for about a week in their community. Every week, another 5000 youth leave while 5000 more take their place. They’re known for their most beautiful chant music and this week, true to their reputation, one of the brothers of the community came to Vancouver to host an ecumenical prayer service. The church it was held in was a really beautiful one… one I was very happy to see from the inside. It really gives one a sense of the sacred when entering inside. The prayer service, which included the meditative singing of a dozen taizé songs,scripture reading, a meditation by Brother Emil and veneration of the cross was very well done. Heheheheh

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Also this week, I’ve started getting back into the swing of university life. It’s really weird being a seminarian who’s not in the seminary. Earlier this week, there was almost a part of me that felt the I did not belong to the university that I had called my home for close to 6 years. In any case, this week was Clubs Days at SFU. This is the week when all the various clubs up on campus showcase themselves and try and recruit new members. There are clubs of all kinds here. If there isn’t a club that specializes in whatever you’re interested in, you can also always make it yourself and get some funding and find some new members who share your interests. One of the relatively newer clubs that kind of irked me was the Skeptics club. They have placed a gigantic banner over convocation mall saying “There’s probably no God now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” the great work this group is doing is they’re bringing talk about religion, faith and God back into the public square. In one sense, it’s good to be challenged on your faith because it causes you to really reflect back on the reasons why you believe and the reasonability of your religion too. My only fear is not knowing how many people succumb to their tactics.

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Christianity, and in particular, Catholic Christianity is very reasonable, common-sensically, philosophically and scientifically, as I’ve been learning throughout this year. Truth is one in the person of Christ therefore not only does faith not contradict reason, it cannot. It’s impossible for it to do so. I would have wanted to speak with some of these skeptics during the Clubs daydream but I didn’t because first of all, a lot of other Christian groups were already busy dialoging with them and secondly, I knew that if I tried to dialogue with them, I would be going in with the unhealthy mindset of wanting to beat them. I wanted to exercise the use of the philosophical tools I had learned throughout this year as weapons to cut these people and their false ideologies down, when in fact, what I really need to do for true dialogue to take place, is to love them in truth. Fr. Peter would always tell us throughout the year that the truth doesn’t have rights, people have rights. Hopefully I’ll get the opportunity to speak with them again sometime during this semester. Anyway, that’s all for today. God bless!! Have a fantastic Sunday!!!

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