Getting busier!!! Gah!! c”,)
So things have started to pick up, life-wise here in Namur… I’ve been in the seminary for a little over a week now and we’re already starting to get flooded with work. I’ve got 11 courses this semester, ranging from Canon Law to Fundamental Morality to Christology to St. Mark… I’m also starting a little bit of Hebrew this year – though for this semester, we’ll be spending most of our time looking at the Jewish culture and tradition. I’ve heard that this particular course includes a visit later on in the year to the Jewish museum in Brussels, as well as a visit to the Grand Synagogue of Brussels. That, I’m really looking forward to and I’ll be sure to post on those when the opportunity comes up.
The seminary here in Namur is the official seminary of all the French speaking seminarians of Belgium. So, we have here seminarians from Namur, Brussels, Liège, etc. all gathered in the same place… There are also seminarians here from Redemptoris Mater, the neo-catechumenal community based here in Belgium, as well as seminarians from a new community – The Fraternity of the Holy Apostles, who are inspired by the ministry of a very famous priest in Marseilles in the South of France named Père Michel-Marie Zanotti. I’ve heard echoes around here of him being almost like a young curé of Ars. His parish is apparently completely on fire and his reputation is spreading quickly here in Europe. I only know very little about him, as Marseilles is at the other end of the continent and I’ve never had the opportunity of going there. I know he goes everywhere in a cassock… he’s a very good preacher… he’s taken extraordinary care of the liturgy in his parish… Anyway, he’s inspired a whole bunch of young men to establish among themselves this new community that is now studying for the priesthood here with us in Namur. I’ve attached a youtube link of the Paschal Vigil of Fr. Michel-Marie as well as a photo from the room where we study in the seminary here.
In addition to my studies, I’ve also started getting busier and busier in the community. Each month, we hold a “Community Weekend” where members of the community of Namur and Wallonie meet for a day of semi-retreat with Mass, teachings, adoration and praise together. This year, I’ve been told to help out with the community and parish adolescents… So for the first community weekend, which was held in Beauraing (one of two Marian apparition sanctuaries here in Belgium), we decided to bike from Rochefort to Beauraing, a good 30-40 kilometers away. This I did a few days after biking all the way to Dinant and back (see the last post I made) so I was completely exhausted by the end of it… Along the way, we biked past the great Trappist abbey of Rochefort where we celebrated Mass with the parish priest of the Namur community, Fr. Cedric. We were there welcomed by one of the Trappist monks, who gave us a tour of the monastery. The monastery, which isn’t in fact that that old (relatively speaking) is known today not just for being a great Trappist abbey but for being one of the few Trappist monasteries in the world who fabricate their own beer. Rochefort beer is very well known all over the world! The monk in fact who welcomed us handles the secretariat and treasury work of the brewery which is located on the monastery grounds itself.
He told us the story of how, once a week, he’s charged with tasting the beer to ensure its quality and he shared with us how he does it. He said he’s presented 4 glasses of beer labelled A, B, C and D and he has no idea which is which. He tastes A… mmmmm strawberries… He tastes B… Oh Wow! That’s awful! Terrible quality! Then he tastes C… Mmmmm tastes like cinnamon… and finally he tastes D… mmmmm cherries! Then he finds out what these beer corresponds to. A and D are the beers that the monastery will be shipping out the following week. C is the beer that was kept for a year or so… apparently, the taste changes as the beer ages. B is not beer from Rochefort… c”,) We all had a good laugh at that…
He also shared us some of the monastic life – how he gets up everyday a little past 3… how he spends almost the entire morning in prayer… how he’s not allowed to speak with any of the other monks, except during chapter meetings. Contrary to the Benedictines, Trappists have no recreation time! Here’s a picture of the brewery from the outside, by the way… If you look carefully, you should be able to see from the windows the stuff they use to brew their beer.
From Rochefort, we biked along a very beautiful bike path that took us past forests, rivers and some magnificent castles as well! Here are some pictures from the ride!
Anyways, I can’t post for too long… Like I said, I’m flooded now with work I need to do so my posts are going to have to be, from this point on, short and concise! Please keep me in your prayers! God bless!!!!