Sunday, November 22, 2009

the middle

"hey, don't write yourself off yet.
it's only in your head you feel left out,
or looked down on.
just try your best,
try everything you can.
and don't you worry what they tell themselves
when you're away." (Jimmy Eat World - The Middle, 2002)

i'm back from Toronto, to see da boys, meet friends, have coffee, relax, regroup, chill, and get a few pieces of paper as well. i enjoyed convocation, i did. however, it was just an excuse to get out a bit and see how my classmates have been doing, how was the first six months in a parish, how the studies were going, etc.

i also returned with my class picture, which now hangs at the entrance of the cafeteria for all to see. class of 2009 - yes, ordination to the priesthood, but there's also the academic side of things too. for more details, feel free to ask. tomorrow, on my day off, i hope to find a frame store in order to frame the picture. after that it'll be simply to put it up somewhere. there's a line up of about 12things to hang up though.

i enjoyed the reflection given by Fr. Paul, priest at St. Philip Neri Seminary in Toronto. he based his reflection on Pope B16's latest encyclical, "Cartitas in veritate (Charity in truth)". this was a little nod for me personally, since i had touched upon it in a few homilies, as well as reviewed it in our book club. love of neighbour flows from love of God. indeed, these are our two greatest commandments: to love God with all your heart, soul and mind, and to love neighbour as yourself. study, and learning, are linked to this same charity, this love of neighbour, as was highlighted by Fr. Paul.
"[...] we know that all of us possess knowledge. knowledge puffs up, but love builds up." (1 Corinthians 8:1)
ain't that the truth. i didn't know much but after graduating from grade 6, i was on top of the world. then i entered junior high school. oh, but after graduating from grade 9, i was on top once again. until i hit high school, that is. surely after graduating from grade 12 i'd be king of the universe? nope. i had barely enough time to breathe before i found myself in a room of 400 biology students. understanding where God is leading one is difficult sometimes. after four years of university, i was even more lost. now what? i entered ITI which would solve all my problems - indeed, that's what they promised, a job and career. i was on top of the world for five years, and then realized i had gone nowhere.

at all these steps along the way i thought i was done with study, and learning. me = fool. finally i woke up to the truth. we are always learning. new things, and rediscovering the old. i experienced a conversion/reversion. i lack the exact word for what happened in my life, at that particular point - if one can actually pinpoint such a time in one's life. wikipedia defines briefly this religious conversion as "the adoption of new religious beliefs that differ from the convert's previous beliefs." this is where the gray line begins. they are probably right but i believed in God all my life. rather, at one point i didn't care (that's a bit harsh), and now i do. anywho, this post is supposed to be about Fr. Paul, and now i'm going way off tangent!

Fr. Paul made me realize, once again, that we are always at study, always learning to do better, to be better. no one stops studying, really. books, tv, news, movies, songs, internet, all are tools which help us, or not. saying that one is done with study, is as ridiculous as saying that one is done with conversion. we are continually on this road of conversion, on this journey towards holiness. faith and reason go hand in hand.

finally, what brought me to the seminary in the first place was this intense desire to love God. for six years i tried to get to know Him better. i tried to love Him more. and now, i'm called to follow Him more closely. but all this knowledge will just puff me up, if i don't share it with my brothers and sisters! (this issue of how will be left for another time). again, i see the two greatest commandments at work. because i love God, i love you! love for the People of God moved me to study, to enter the seminary, to know my faith. likewise, because of this love for the People of God, you, i am moved to continue my studies. love/charity and study, faith and reason go hand in hand. i'm constantly in different situations where people ask me this or that. can i be done with study? nonsense! i may not know the answer, but i will do my best to find it - love demands nothing less from me.

anywho, a few thoughts for a Sunday afternoon. i'm off to see the peeps at the LifeTeen mass. peace out.

Friday, November 13, 2009

be still my soul

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Eucharist, meetings, eat, sleep, repeat. the daily puzzle of a balanced life is unsolvable, i think. anywho, i keep at it. after a busy week, life gets even busier, more responsibilities, more grace! God knows my weakness, and good thing He is helping me along!

i just got off the phone with one of my brother priests and he helped me to understand that parish life is like the neverending story. not the book, but the reality itself. i've never read, or seen the movie, but i'm experiencing it in everyday life. i'm trying to finish my homily for the weekend, but phone calls and emails keep coming in. i'm aware that i have a memorial mass to celebrate with the Knights of Columbus next week, and i should prepare better, but i'm off to Toronto this coming Monday-Wednesday (for Convocation). i have a few post-it notes all over my desk with things waiting to be done. i've alreay picked up the phone a few times to apologize to this person or that person for having missed an appointment.

i still need a day off though, and it was good to be in North Bay with another brother priest. yes, we discussed vocations with several other representatives from other dioceses. but it was a good balance! since then i have had this song in my head, be still my soul, especially the version by The Priests. i had forgotten about them, my three fellow brothers in the Lord, until i heard their CD in the drive up and back from North Bay. there's always things to do, but how much more important is the time to rest in Him. how many times will i need to hear this before it sinks in?

so, with everything that is happening, the good, the bad, and the ugly, i have taken on something else in my life.

"Yo soy de Canada. Soy canadiense. Soy de Seite Islas en Quebec."

i've always wanted to learn Spanish. so, why not now, at the busiest time of my life! :) good times. hasta la vista!

Saturday, November 07, 2009


"(...) you shouldn't have to shout for joy
shout, shout, let it all out, these are the things i can do without
come on, i'm talking to you, come on" (Tears for Fears - Shout, 1985)
trying to understand God, the Holy Trinity, is not easy. i remember what i learned day one at the seminary - God is not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be entered into! booyah! i never forgot that, it hit me like that can of soup that fell on my toe when i was a young pup.

sometimes i forget that though. i do try to solve Him. as i analyze my chess moves, i analyze His moves, trying to get the better position. i'm running to avoid check, not realizing that we are on the same team. as the ol' song goes, how do you solve a problem like maria, or me in this case? i realized this past week, we as human beings are not problems to be solved, and neither am i. i have been seeking the answer to questions, as buddy goes to the well for answers. for example, the question of balance in life - continues to be my daily puzzle. ministry, exercise, prayer, add a little sleep, and presto - perfect priest. hmmm, if only it were that easy. however, i seem to be focusing on all this as a problem to be solved rather than as a mystery to be entered into. i'm not in control, God is. i'm just trying to follow His lead.

last week, however, i needed a break. i ended up going to Champboisé to rest awhile in the Lord. silence is the best music after all. so i spent my day off reconfiguring things, analyzing this, contemplating that, ... basically praying, sleeping and eating - not necessarily in that order. they say that the first year of the priesthood is the worst. guess what? the honeymoon is over! i'm now in my sixth month as a priest, and - as i heard it said this morning by one of the parishionners, transitions are difficult, even the positive ones. this is going to be a bumpy ride, i'd better hold on! ah, but to what? to prayer, of course. my mini-retreat has taught me the importance of prayer, and the emphasis i must put on it. this is indeed a ride of a lifetime, a journey of holiness can be nothing other. and, prayer smooths out that ride and make it peaceful.

so, now that i've shouted it all out, figured out those things i can do without, i can move forward and upward. it'll be a busy next couple of weeks. this week i'm off to North Bay for work with the vocations committee (francophone side of things). i'm going with Daniel B., our episcopal vicar for the francophone lung of the diocese. i'm looking forward to it, and more on that later. the following week i'm back to Toronto for convocation. after having missed it while finishing up and UNB, i'm excited to see how it all goes down. then, at the end of this month, marks something special! i'm not going to say what it is, but let's just say that my mom is flying in for the weekend to celebrate it with me! :) good times.

have a great week. peace out.