Thoughts from a young theologian

Some things never change


It’s amazing how fast this month and this semester seems to be swinging by!! Already almost the end of the month with Halloween, All Saints Day and All Souls Day just around the corner! So much and yet so little has happened since my last post…

In all honesty, there’s not really anything out of the ordinary seminary life that has happened… Daily life has been marked by regular getting up at 4:30 – 5:00 am (something that I’m already pretty used to nowadays). Whenever I get up at 4:30, I’m usually able to join the monks for their Lauds (morning prayer) at 5, though that hasn’t happened much this year because of my late studying nights… Then, at 5:30, I try and spend some time doing some spiritual reading. Unofficially, on my own time, I’m working through St. Augustine’s Confessions, a masterpiece for anyone interested in reading it… There’s so much that I can relate to in it… Officially, that is, with my spiritual director, I’m also reading Jacques Philippe’s In the School of the Holy Spirit, which is incidentally one of the books highly recommended by Fr. Abbot. Then, we have mass at 6:30, breakfast at 7 and classes begin at 8:30. I’m really loving the classes I’m taking this year. It’s been a ton of fun learning Greek because, although it’s really its own thing, there a lot in it that has been adapted into English too, just like Latin. Plus, we have Fr. Lawrence for our teacher. He’s one of the older Benedictine monks in the community but his mind is still as sharp as razor. The best part about Fr. Lawrence is by far his tangents… Often, when we encounter a word or situation that we’re trying to translate, either in Greek or in Latin, it reminds him of certain experiences he’s had in the past and it’s sooooooo much fun hearing him go into these. We learn a little more about the history of the monastery and a lot about Fr. Lawrence’s life, and quite often, they’re pretty funny. The Latin and especially the Greek classes are by far, my favorite…

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Another class I’ve been caught up in te middle of is Metaphysics… We’re currently working through St. Thomas Aquinas’ De Ente et Essentia and, while it is quite challenging, we have a more than capable teacher of it in Fr. Peter. Trying to wrap our minds around “being”, “substance”, “essence”–what something is and “existence” — that something is, has been a challenge for most of us, but a very welcome one at that… Fr. Peter’s new thing this year (apparently, he always introduces something quite different each year) are powerpoint presentations. The monks are so into this new One Note application, that I honestly have not heard of, nor have not had much experience of, by Microsoft… They’re loving the program to bits and they’ve been designing these pretty intricate powerpoint presentations to help in their teaching… How can you use power points to try and teach metaphysics you may ask? Well, the last class, we had tons of pictures of observatories to illustrate an important point. We’re in the middle of discussing what ideas and thoughts are, and for St. Thomas Aquinas, they’re the means
by which we know things… Contrary to Descartes, the ideas are not what we know when we say we know (otherwise, we’d be stuck in our minds and untrusting of everything else around us) but they’re the means by which we get at reality… So Fr. Peter used these pictures of observatories to show us that when we’re trying to look at the stars, what we know isn’t the telescopes but rather the stars by means of the telescopes which we use as a tool to view them. He goes into a bit more detail on that, but I don’t want to either bore or lose you in this, so I’ll leave it there… Hehehehe… Needless to say, our metaphysics classes have an extra little doohickey (to use the favorite word of Fr. Lawrence) added to them…

So that’s how things have been pretty much the same here in the abbey… Life has been fairly regular with prayer, studies and community time… Hehehehe… at the same time though, amidst the constancy, there has been quite a bit of dynamism too… The environment around us has been changing pretty dramatically… The colors of the trees have been exquisite too lately! There’s one tree in particular, I think it’s a Japanese maple, that’s found on the little walkway between the majors residence and the abbey church that exemplified this really well… It now has a beautiful fire red color that stands out against the dull grey sky behind it…

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Also, we’ve shifted in our Divine Office from the upbeat and “cheerful” summer tone on to the more reserved and soothing winter tone… That’s unfortunately something that I can’t really illustrate… You’d have to come here and experience it for yourself… c”,) Our food has been changing too… We’ve been having a little less corn (which we’d had in abundance just a couple of weeks ago) and more squash… Apparently, we’ll have to really get used to squash because they’ve just harvested a truckload of it from the farm… Hehehehehehe And speaking of food, one interesting thing that I did as well last week was I helped the fraters (younger monks) make some sauerkraut… In a little room underneath the monastery, we basically spent a Saturday afternoon grounding up about 8 boxes of cabbage (trust me… that’s a lot of cabbage) and dumping it all into this huge bin, adding salt and hammering it down until the juices (water) in the cabbage came out… Then we sealed it and are now allowing it to ferment for about a month… Apparently, it gets really hot too as it ferments so periodically, a few of us guys are definitely going to be checking it out to see how it’s going… And that’s been my update for you so far… Have a Happy All Saints Day!!! God bless!!!20111030-094638.jpg

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