Saint John Vianney Seminary photos

Inside the quad

Downtown as seen from the tower

The Front Range from the tower

Stained glass in the centre of the apse at Christ the King Chapel

The Mary garden

A typical room on third floor

Dominic's Nine Ways of Prayer

I wasn't too excited by this reading; it talks about the different postures in prayer that St Dominic used. Yes, we should be free to assume different postures, but I'm not that excited. Maybe I'm too much of an old fogey.

I did have a few particularly interesting notes in this lecture, though:

First a reiteration: "Scriptures are the language of prayer--we need to commit them to memory, so that they can come to our mind during prayer; if we don't commit to memory, we are impeding God's normal way of reaching us/talking to us". So again: use the one week psalter! It's a good thing.

The telos of prayer is communion/relationship with God.

And a favourite point of mine: "Reading/study is not in competition with other areas of formation: because 1) study informs your pastoral work 2) study forms good human habits 3) study leads us into deep contemplation". Needless to say, I'm excited to have a class schedule again come autumn.


Spirituality Year is over

I've finished Spirituality Year as St John Vianney Seminary, and my media fast is over, so I will be trying to blog about the past year in the coming months. I hope to share what I found to be particularly fruitful. Given my temperament, I'll naturally start with my handouts and notebooks from class.

My favourite class was Spiritual Classics. We spent the whole year delving into a number of the greatest works of Catholic spirituality. Our reading list was:

*Catechism of the Catholic Church (the fourth pillar thereof)
*Dominic's Nine Ways of Prayer
*Benedict's Rule
*Guigo's Ladder of Monks
*Francis Xavier Nguyen van Thuan's Testimony of Hope
*Augustine's Confessions
*Bernard of Clairvaux
*John of the Cross
*Story of a Soul, by St. Therese of Lisieux
*a retreat of Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity

Reflections on the Catechism:

[These are disparate, and the nuggets from my notes]

Priests need to be experts in prayer for our people--they want to see someone who is deeply prayerful, who points to the Other. Every person has this desire on their heart; even if they don't want to actually turn to God, they need to see someone who is there; it becomes a matter of hope. If people can see a man who is in intimate relationship with the Other, maybe they can be in this intimate relationship with their Creator as well. I think this is why we are given the Spirituality Year, which is apparantly unique among seminaries. It's an entire year devoted to time for prayer and the spiritual life, before we're thrown into academics. The intention is that we develop a rock foundation of prayer that will sustain us throughout our life.
Prayer configures us to God the Father; it takes us into his heart.
When we pray, we come more fully what we are.

Secular priests have to be a model for everyone; we're free to borrow spirituality from all over the Church's patrimony; we must express spirituality in ways that will appeal to the lay faithful; we need to be able to relate to pretty much everyone.

One of the most important things in our life is obedience. The word comes from ob-audire: to listen. And we can't hear the Father if we don't take up our cross and follow the Son.

SY is billed as the year of the heart, because the heart is the place of encounter with God. Many of us (and me especially) are caught up in our heads and don't relate enough with our heart. SY was a great year to grow in this.
Prayer is our heart to heart relationship with God; the heart is our inner sanctuary, where God speaks to us; it is where we can talk to God.

One of the foundational virtues is humility. We each need to pray God to show me how I really am; how he sees me; to have a true vision of self. It is important to remember that God really does see each of his as his child. This is a hard lesson to learn, but important.

The spiritual life is about our thriving; God wants us to thrive, even more than we do. We thrive as we realize our identity, as sons of God; as we become more and more conformed to Christ, we become more and more who we are.

On the Holy Spirit: The Holy Spirit is the source of our spiritual life; Christ is in heaven interceding for us that we might receive him, that we will know and love him.
The Holy Spirit is the spirit of sonship; because the Spirit is in us, we are sons of the Father.
He is Jesus' Spirit, so he communicates Jesus' desires to us.
The Spirit can be deepened in us even once we have him; it's not all-or-nothing.

The reason we sin, is because be don't know God's love; we don't realize how much he loves us, and so we don't respond in love to his love.

We acquire the heart of Jesus through the Psalms. The Psalms cover the whole gamut of human emotion. The better we know them, the easier we can integrate them into our prayer life, and see them as God's words to us personally. One thing I intend to do in the coming year is to set aside one holy hour each week to memorizing psalms. I tend to waste my time in holy hours, not knowing what to do, so this will be a good way to focus myself. The importance of the Psalms is a good reason to use the Roman Breviary rather than the Liturgy of the Hours. A one week psalter can make them stick in your mind in a way that a four week psalter never will. Moreover, iyou get all the psalms, in all their parts, rather than most of the psalms, edited for content.

In my notes I have: "you begin to be able to pray continuously if you spend specific time in prayer each day". I don't exactly see this having happened in the course of the last year in my life, but I suppose I'm much better than I was last June. And the extent it hasn't happened is I'm sure some defect on my part, not having given myself well enough to the year. Pray for me.

Most Christians live their life like Michael Corleone--he always wanted to get out of the family business, but only got sucked back in each time he got close to escaping it.
We need to pay attention to the fact taht there is something in us which is repulsed by God. We must realize in our poverty taht we need God--ask God for his gift of prayer. Ask God to show us how we are (ie humility). Ask for the mercy to see how much we need him; get out from the illusion that I'm a good guy and don't kneed to be fixed; if I don't, I will inflict my wounds on my parishioners [or whoever's around me]. I can't fall into thinking I can't talk to God about my biggest problems because he'll be repulsed by them/me--he already knows, and freely chose to die an awful death so that I can be raised up from these problems and share his life. He will never refuse his mercy to we who ask for it.

And for those pursuing the married vocation: a husband's pathway to holiness is to lay down his life for his bride.