Today, I had the pleasure of witnessing Alejandro's first Mass (in Spanish) as a deacon and listening to his beautiful homily. During the ordination and the Mass, I was edified to see how happy he seemed in this new phase of religious life and the energy he brought into his ministry. I remarked to him afterwards: "You're a natural!" Here's a pic following Mass.
Alejandro hosted a nice lunch yesterday, and we had quite the gathering of Oregonians present. Here is another pic! (We had to get at least one pic in to give the impression that we like each other =p Truly, though, it was great to be with them)
Now, because tomorrow is a holiday at Fordham, and Mondays are typically quite a busy day for me, I thought I would finally write an update about how things are going.
Typically, I find philosophy studies to be quite exhausting mentally, but I find it even more so in my final year here. Unfortunately, my capacity to invest more time mentally into the blog has been quite diminished. I think part of it is due to the fact that I have practically been in school since I was 4 years old, and almost all of my life has been spent in the classroom. I also find myself quite ready to move onto a new stage of formation in which I am no longer a student but rather one who is ready to integrate all of that learning into full-time work. Yearning for the future, however, is not so helpful in approaching the present situation, so I find myself praying for the ability to fully engage myself in this final year without checking-out too soon.
On that note, I recently met with my new superior for Formation, Fr. Jerry Cobb, and it seems most likely that I will be going to teach at one of our high schools in the Northwest next year (we have four schools in the Oregon Province: Jesuit High in Portland, OR, Bellarmine Prep in Tacoma, WA, Seattle Prep, and Gonzaga Prep in Spokane, WA). I very much enjoyed working at Gonzaga Prep for a few months as a novice, so I very much look forward to this new opportunity.
So, I am taking four classes this semester: Natural Law Ethics, Integration Seminar, Introduction to Old Testament, and Philosophy of Religion. I actually don't need to take philosophy of religion, but prior Scholastics of Ciszek Hall have recommended the course. Plus, I figured that it would be useful to wrestle more with the question of religion and how we think about religion. Although I have found some of the readings and discussion helpful, I have not found myself really in love with any of my classes at the current moment. Curiously, during this past week, I found myself beginning to appreciate and actually liking the topic of metaphysics. I must be going crazy =p I think, however, there is something to be said for humans to ask those philosophical questions about the origins of the universe and why things are the way they are. I believe these sorts of questions and the way we answer them do very much affect the way we perceive and interact with the world around us--that is, if we even give pause to consider such questions. Of course, the Catholic response to these questions centers on our belief in God who created the world and sustains its existence, and such a belief is harmonious with our natural powers of reason and not contrary to faith (see JPII's encyclical, Fides Et Ratio)
Studies aside, I have also begun a new apostolate this year. In my previous two years, I worked as a catechist at the local parish here in the Bronx, St. Martin of Tours, and prepared 6th/7th graders for the Sacrament of Confirmation. I wanted to tap into my musical side this year, so my apostolate now is to provide music for the 9:30AM Sunday mass at the parish. The pastor really wants to promote this Mass more, and one of the ways to encourage such participation is to enhance the music at the liturgy. Two other Jesuit brothers of mine are helping me at this particular Mass, and in our debut performance, we had quite a number of parishioners truly thanking us for providing this ministry. I'm quite aware that it's not good to form something, only to leave it after a year. I'm hoping that once I leave, I will have been able to set something up that can be sustained in the future. Prayers are appreciated in this regard.
In addition to the music, I continue to help lead a CLC group on campus, which I began last year. It is always great to come together with the group to dedicate a moment of our week for prayer and reflection.
In all, I have found things to be rather busy and stressful this year. In the midst of the busyness, I recognize my need to make moments in the day that I dedicate for silence and prayer. One of my Jesuit brothers recently talked about his prayer as a contemplative in the world, and that he strives to make his life and his work a prayer in itself. As Jesuits, I think that is the proper attitude for how we approach our life and ministry. On the other hand, I recognize in myself a personal need to carve out actual moments in my day in which I temporarily retreat from the world in private prayer. As always, there's room for improvement on my part =p
Finally, I thought I would provide a new picture of the Ciszek Hall community this year, which was taken about a month and a half ago, lol. I believe, in total, that we are 26 Scholastics and 3 priests. This year, we have 6 new first year men as well as a new superior, Fr. Joe Sands. Our bright and smiling faces expresses how excited we are to study philosophy and to share this mission with one another =) These are my Jesuit brothers whom I share this vocation with, and together we strive as vowed religious to root our lives centrally in Christ--Christ who is our light and our life. One of the first things that Joe asked of all of us in the first weeks was to support each other by praying for one another, and I would like to end this by offering my prayers of thanksgiving for my fellow Jesuit brothers at Ciszek Hall, that God may continue to pour forth the Holy Spirit to inspire their work, and that they may be given the graces they need at this time to become formed more and more as religious who will spend their lives laboring in the vineyard of our Lord. AMDG