Thoughts from a young theologian

Posts tagged “cathedral

I’m still here!! Merry Christmas by the way


Just to show you guys that I’m still alive (barely) and kicking, I’ll make a very quick post. After Christmas, which I spent in a parish I was assigned to in Rouen, France this year, I’ve been back at Namur and since essentially early January have hit the books really hard. I’ve got about 8 massive exams that start up on Tuesday so it’s been really really tough for me to find time to put up a post.

But seeing as this is a post that I’ve wanted to do since Christmas, I figured I should greet all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year before the Christmas season ends with the Baptism of our Lord today… So Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! c”,) I’ve added a few pictures for you from my travels… the first being the nativity scene in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris this year. It changes every year and this year, they had this style of creche. The second photo is a quick view of the Rouen cathedral with the Christmas market up in front. Unfortunately, the facade is currently being worked on so you can’t see more of it but it’s a gorgeous ancient building… It’s the same cathedral that the painter Claude Monet worked on with his impressionist artwork. Finally, the last photo, once more from Paris shows the city’s newest, biggest attraction. I never thought I’d seen a lineup this long for this exotic cuisine!!! I’ll post more once exams finish next week… in the meantime, take care and God bless!!!

Nativity Scene at Notre Dame

Rouen in ChristmasLong line up for the newest big thing in PAris!


Vacationing in Valencia

It’s official… Pilgrimage mode is over… sort of… Now I’m into tourist mode… I’m spending the rest of my week and a bit touring a little bit more of Spain, namely Valencia and Barcelona (the favorite city of my sister) before spending our last few days in Paris and flying back to Vancouver… I’ve already finished my stay both in Valencia and Barcelona and as I’m writing this post, I’m on my way (literally on my plane) to Paris… Let me summarize the highlights of Valencia for you here…

To end off my day in Madrid, my sister and I went to a soccer game in the nearby stadium that featured a game between Spain and the rest of the world… This game was the city’s way of saying thank you and goodbye to all the pilgrims who had come to visit them over the spectacular week of WYD… I think that most people were already exhausted from the final mass and from the whole week in general so the stadium was only half full… But it was still quite an experience.. For someone who comes from the part of the world where hockey rules EVERYTHING, it was a huge treat for me to see European soccer… And you could tell that these players weren’t amateurs either, just by the crisp way that they passed the ball around… I didn’t know any of them though and it wasn’t really announced who we were actually watching… At the end of the game, which the rest of the world won 2-1, they released hundreds of brightly colored balloons into the night sky, officially ending WYD 2011.

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The next day, my sister who was with a separate group (from Vancouver) and I travelled to Valencia, after meeting my brother at the Madrid train station… He had decided not to join us for the World Youth Day events and instead went backpacking throughout Europe with a few friends… We’ll be getting him to Rio for sure in a couple of years…

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Valencia, home of the famed architect, Santiago Calatrava and the birthplace of paella!!! From the get go, we didn’t stop eating… As soon as we got in late at night, we found out that our hotel had a relatively cheap buffet dinner and so we signed up really quickly and had a fantastic meal before bed… The next day, we toured the city of Valencia a little bit… We visited the central market, where we had a late brunch of, you guessed it… paella!!!

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For me though, the highlight of our first day in Valencia was easily the cathedral… The city was apparently home to several saints, including one of my personal favorites, the miracle worker, St. Vincent Ferrer… St. Vincent was soooooo renowned for his many miracles that he was attracting a bit too much attention to himself and his order that his superior asked him to stop working miracles… The story goes that after this, St. Vincent was walking on his way, I think to mass, one day and across the street were some workers working on the facade of a building on top of some scaffolding… One of them lost his footing and started falling to the ground and seeing the priest walking below, he cried out to him for help… The problem is that St. Vincent cannot work miracles and saints are very obedient… So he told the guy to wait up and the construction worker froze in place as he was falling down… St. Vincent then went to see his superior who, stupefied, asked him if he was there now and gave him permission to save him… Sigh… I love saints… This is the pulpit he preached from once…

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Saints aren’t the only thing to be found in this magnificent cathedral… Housed in a little chapel off the entrance of the cathedral is one of the most important relics in Christendom… Legend has it that this particular relic was brought to Spain hundreds of years ago to protect it from the Christian persecutions and was hidden in various monasteries when the Moors invaded Spain before finally remerging and being presented to the Valencia cathedral later on… This relic is none other that the holy grail… yes… the same one Indiana Jones was trying to find. According to legend, this particular grail is the same one used by Christ during the last supper!!!

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The grail has special significance for myself who’s discerning the priesthood because of literally what it means to be a priest… to act in persona Christi… By repeating the same words he said 2000 years ago, “This is my body… This is my blood…” we make present Christ’s one sacrifice on the cross and the bread and wine before us are transubstantiated (wow… big word…) into His Body and His Blood!!! The Eucharist we receive today is the same Eucharist He gave His disciples during the Last Supper, the same Eucharist received by the two disciples on the way to Emmaus, and the same Eucharist received by the first disciples during the first masses in the crypts of Rome. It’s the same Christ… These are just a few thoughts that ran through my head as I was praying before the relic…

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The other slightly less major highlight from Valencia happened the next day when we visited one of its most famous sites, the set of buildings designed by Santiago Calatrava that appears most on wish you were here postcards and travel guides… the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias… We spent most of day 2 in Valencia touring this modern complex… We started with the Museo de Las Ciencias, a huge, Science-World like building with enough gadgets and exhibits to entertain children of all ages… My personal favorite, being a biologist, was the chromosome forest that showcased all 23 pairs of human chromosomes, including what genes are found in each and what they do in the most creative way I’ve ever seen… Look at what they did to demonstrate the length of the human intestine, for example!!!

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After the museum of science, my sister and I watched an IMAX movie about the Nile river on the building that looks like an eye, the Hemisfèric before ending our day and essentially our Valencian visit with the aquarium, OceanogrĂ fic. There, like in any other aquarium we visited, we watched the dolphin show, visited the sharks, rays and other tropical fish by walking through the longest underwater tunnel I’ve ever been in… We also checked out the penguins and walruses before finally calling it a day… It’s nice to just be a tourist!!! c”,) God bless until next time!!!

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Philly and the City that never sleeps

This past weekend was an incredible busy one for me… and in a good way… I started my summer vacation and travels… The last class I had to teach was on the Thursday and so afterwards, I pretty much had more time to pack and prepare for the little vacation and pilgrimage I’m currently in the middle of…

So my first stop was Philadelphia, the land of middle of the street parking (see below), some relatives from my dad’s side of the family whom we visited and brotherly love. We also drove by the home stadium of the Philadelphia Flyers, one of the NHL teams I really hoped would beat the Boston Bruins this past year.. Then maybe we could have had a better outcome in the final…. Yeah… I’m still a bit sore over that…

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This wasn’t all a vacation trip though for my family, in fact, most of it wasn’t a vacation… We recently lost one of my uncles and so the rest of my family, including my grandmother and aunts flew over from the Philippines and went to Philly… It was nice to see them again and really nice to meet the second cousins I had never met before too… It’s too bad this sort of event is only guaranteed to happen when something bad or tragic occurs…

Philadelphia is a really lucky city right now too from the Catholic world perspective because the renowned and solidly orthodox Archbishop Chaput was recently transferred there. We read his most recent book “Render unto Caesar” at table last year in the seminary.. He’s pretty solid and the archdiocese of Philadelphia is really excited to have him coming in… I went to Sunday mass at a very beautiful church near my relatives’ home and the Monsignor celebrating the mass was so excited when he told me that his parish would be one of the first to be visited…

The next half of the day was spent in the airport…. This was the longest I’ve ever spent in one single airport… My aunts and grandmother had issues with their flight booking and my other aunt was on standby and didn’t end up getting a flight that day… Because we needed to be there to watch this all unfold, we were in that airport for half the day… Both my aunts and grandmothers flights were cancelled so we all ended up in a nearby outlet mall… We didn’t got lunch the whole day so at the mall, I got what should be the main dish in any Philadelphian restaurant: cheese steak… Mmmmmmmmmm

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The last site we visited in Philadelphia was the nearby Princeton university which, due to severe time constraints, we only drove through… I’ve included some of those pictures for you guys anyway… It just kinda looks like UBC anyway… I guess after a while, these ivy league schools start to look a little more similar.

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After Philly, my parents and I drove over to the city that never sleeps… The Big Apple itself, New York!!! I won’t lie… NYC is gorgeous and it’s massive!!! The skyscrapers lining it soar Hugh up into the sky… The only one I made it to the top to was the infamous Rockefeller Center and its Top of the Rock… The view up there is really exquisite. Among the things you can see, what stands out are the Empire State and Central Park, the one and almost only green spot in the city… One can really compare and contrast New York to a smaller, greener city like Vancouver… P.S. That last picture is of St. Patrick’s cathedral from above!!!

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The first night, we walked quite a bit around Times Square, a place from which I can see where New York gets its nickname from… That place seems like it would always be busy!!! The next day, my parents and I ended up taking a mini tour of the city with a guide bus and a boat ride… We got up close to the Statue of Liberty and walked by Wall Street and the 9/11 memorial, which is still under construction and will be opening very soon (September 11 of this year). One can also see the construction site of the new World Trade Center that’s going up little by little…

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The highlight of my trip to New York, however was most definitely the first and only broadway show I’ve ever seen… We watched the Phantom of the Opera, by far my favorite musical!!! It was incredible to see the whole thing live, as Andrew Lloyd Webber had envisioned it!!! Unfortunately, because of rules of the theater, I have no pictures to show you from that.. Maybe later, I’ll just post some of the theater pictures I was allowed to take…

One of the things I promised I wouldn’t be dropping even though I’m on a vacation is truly the spiritual life… It’s something so key as a seminarian to always keep going because it’s that which really roots you. So I did that through daily mass at none other than St. Patrick’s cathedral where one of my heroes, Abp. Fulton Sheen is buried. I couldn’t go down to see him, because no one can but I did manage to ask them to give him some flowers I had bought for him.. He did play a big role, through his books and tv show reruns in my vocational discernment after all… If I do end up going all the way, it’ll be partly his fault… Hehehehheheh

It was very nice to see that broadway show because the very next day, I left New York… It was an incredible long day of just pure traveling… I flew first from La Guardia airport to Montreal, where I met most of my World Youth Day group… Then from Montreal, we all took the slightly long flight to Paris… I didn’t get much sleep on that at all because I spent most of my time on that flight working on the talk I need to give to the group… At Paris, we had lunch and I started taking on my first role as a small group leader of one of the 5 groups we divided our larger group into… That was fun because I’ve been nervously stumbling along with my little knowledge of French and rying to get by with it…

Right now, I’m in Barcelona… It’s 7 am and I’m working on finishing my first post ever from Europe… I would have finished it last night but I collapsed on my bed, exhausted from all that travel…. Hehehehehehehe I can’t wait to show you some first hand stuff of the joy, excitement an enthusiasm of the World Youth Day very soon!!! God bless!!!