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!!!
Sorry for the lack of blog posts recently… It has been the busiest week and a bit for me in the whole year. From the Triduum onwards, I have just been on the go. This time is usually the busiest time for any priest and, as I have very quickly learned, for many seminarians as well. So needless to say, since my last post, so much has happened both in the Catholic world and in the world in general.
First of all, we have been celebrating the great feast of Easter for the past 8 days now and so the mood here in the abbey has dramatically changed. Because in addition to it being Easter, it is also exam time, our meals always have dispensations from table reading. We get to chat it up with each other each and every single meal. The mass has dramatically changed as well in tone over here. Over the Triduum, the bells were stopped entirely (after the Gloria of Holy Thursday until the Easter vigil). Anyone who lives near the abbey will immediately notice it! No more 6:30 am bells!! c”,) In addition, the masses have also been more flooded with music… Fr. Basil, on our organ here, has been a lot busier now than ever as he plays not just for the Gregorian chant but interludes as well.
During the Triduum, the thing which occupied me the most was all the serving of masses. I tried to stay away as best as I could from stuff like this, i.e. the internet… Hehehehehe I also stopped my studies for the 3 days and tried to focus as much as I could on the different liturgies. I served the Holy Thursday mass and Good Friday service at the abbey and the Easter Vigil over at the Cathedral. It’s such an incredible and special time, going from that depressing but beautifully sung (by 3 monks) Gospel reading of Good Friday commemorating our Lord’s Passion all the way to three days after, the jubilation and triumph of Easter. It’s such a different feel here in the abbey because we really don’t just celebrate the liturgies, rather we literally live them each day, or at least try to.
Immediately after the Easter Vigil, we had a few days off. I took that time to grab some much needed R&R at home with my family. Normally, we get a week after Easter off but this year, because Easter is so late, we only had from Saturday night until Tuesday night. I decided to come back a little bit earlier than that though because immediately following our return, we had our exams. I came back on Monday afternoon to try and study for that and honestly, that’s mainly what I have been doing since, though at this point, the worst of it is over. I had 5 papers to write, 2 of these, absolutely huge with lots of research required, and 2 written exams in addition. And that was all considered an “easier” week compared to what the theologians had to go through. Maybe, if I get the opportunity, I’ll post up one of these papers on here (depending on whether I get a good enough mark on it to make sure no bad heresies are on it… hehehhehe). I’ll warn you now though, it’s really long and possibly not that interesting but at least, it’ll give you an idea of how seriously the studies are taken here…
It hasn’t all just been about books though this week. This past Sunday was an incredible day for the Church as our beloved Pope John Paul II was beatified in Rome. The secular media reported that close to 1 million people came into the city for it, while the religious media reported there were 2 million people there… Hehehehehe the reality is probably somewhere in the middle. For it, I stayed up until close to 3 am, Sunday morning to try and stream it and watch it. I was keeping an eye out for two of the older brother monks who were given the privilege by the abbot to go and be a part of all the festivities, one of them, Brother Emerich, told me it would be his first time on a plane! The ceremony was beautiful and even though I was not actually there in Rome, I felt very much a part of it. So much so that the geeky side of me came out a little bit–I decided to take a couple of pictures of the celebrations from my screen… Hehehehehe The funniest part about the whole thing though (and the reason I was trying to get a picture of my screen) was that I saw a couple of shots of a HUGE banner that I saw near the front of the crowd!! It was really funny because it was soooooooo long that it rivaled in size all the Polish flags that were all over the place (as you probably can imagine). It was a long banner of, I think, a Canadian flag (I can’t remember) with the words VANCOUVER strewn across it… I was really proud to see it… hehehehehe
The beatification mass was quite intricate… It’s pretty much a normal mass with certain additions to it in between the Kyrie and the Gloria. First, the postulator of John Paul II’s cause came up and asked of the pope to recognize the beatification of Pope John Paul II. He then read a short biography of his life, pausing every now and then at certain points to allow the crowd to clap for him. Then, after the reading, Pope Benedict read a formula prayer (in Latin) pronouncing Pope John Paul as blessed. With that, the tapestry bearing his image was uncovered, revealing a gorgeous picture of him in his younger years as Pope (because apparently, one cannot officially pray to or show pictures of someone in a church until he’s officially beatified or canonized).
Then a vial of his blood was brought up by the nun whose cure he had helped intercede to Jesus for, as a relic. Just a quick blurb on relics, they come from the Latin verb reliquere, which means to leave behind. Catholic saints are on the one hand, models for us to follow, but on the other, they’re members of our family (the Mystical body of Christ) so relics have always been around since the early days of the Church from the practice of clinging on to one’s heroes and loved ones in the same way one holds on to a photograph… I think I kinda went into this topic before, when St. Jean Vianney visited us here… c”,) In any case, I went to bed after listening to the homily and was totally exhausted the next day… Worth it though… The funniest part was that I had to serve two masses then too… I served the regular Sunday mass at the abbey and a special commemorative mass for Pope John Paul at the Cathedral! c”,) How I managed to get through both, God knows… Hehehehehe… It was worth it…
Okay… I’ve got to get back to work… There’s just a quick update on what’s been going on over here in the abbey… We only have until Thursday before everything is finished and we get to go home!! That means that this will be my last post ever as a first year seminarian (because next year, I get to be a second year seminarian!!!) Yay!!! I’ll try and keep this blog somewhat up to date over the summer too.. Just looking ahead at what’s coming, I’ll be spending most of my summer working at the university as a teaching assistant for the Biology 100 course. Throughout the month of May though, I’ll be busy with ordinations, retreats, and all kinds of fun events throughout the archdiocese so don’t worry!! I’ll have stuff to write about!! Then in August, the best part of my whole summer… I get to go to World Youth Day in Madrid… I’m not yet sure how I’ll keep this blog up to date then, but I’ll definitely try to from there… Anyways, Happy Easter and God bless!!!