Week in Review and What I’m Doing for Lent

Hello everyone! It’s been awhile since I’ve really written about what’s happening in my life, so I thought I’d give you a brief synopsis:

In case you missed it living under your rock, I’m currently in my first year (of four) studying theology at the University of St. Mary of the Lake – Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, IL. It’s the theological school and major seminary for the Archdiocese of Chicago.

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It’s a nice place, yeah?

Fast forward a little bit. Had a very successful fall semester here and am knee deep in the new spring semester with a full load of classes:

  • Christology and Soteriology (study of who Christ is and how He saves us)
  • Doctrine of God (taught by Father Robert Barron; aptly nicknamed “Doctrine of Bob”)
  • American Church History
  • Medical Ethics and Suffering (a neat, neat class)
  • Ecclesiastical Latin (yay…)
  • Principles of Sacred Liturgy
  • Liturgical Chant
  • Theological Reflection
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Now you know why the Theology Classroom building looks like a haunted house

This week, we just finished up our “spring” break. It was a great opportunity to get away and rest awhile, but as usual I ignored the opportunity and stayed pretty busy.

On Sunday, I gave my favorite talk of the year to the high school teens and their leaders and my awesome home parish of St. Anne’s in Oswego. I talked a little bit about what Oswego means to me and how it was the stage for my meeting God.

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But first…

Then, on Wednesday I served at all five Ash Wednesday Masses. Totally pooped by the end of it but it was certainly worth the work! There are two forms that are allowed to be used when applying the ashes:

  • Repent and believe in the Gospel
  • Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return

I always go with the latter option. I can remember having someone say that to me when I was in the RE program. The phrase and its implications have always stuck with me. It was really something to have a line of people all coming forward to receive ashes. You can learn a lot about a person by their forehead, you know. The young people had smooth, worry-less brows while the older people had mostly furrowed brows, wrinkly and worn out foreheads, foreheads that had seen the wear and tear of a life well lived.

There was a woman who came up, walking slowly and cautiously, accompanied by her daughter, and was using an oxygen tank. She looked to be in her 80’s. When I put the ash cross on her forehead and said those words, she sighed a bit as if to say “yes, I know, and I am ready.” She glanced up at the crucifix and continued on her way. I was so moved by that. Later on in the same line, a young mother came down the aisle holding her smiley newborn in her arms. I put the ashes on each of them with the same line as before, but ever more cognizant of the beauty of life and the importance to live well the one we’ve been given…we only get one chance.

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Remember, man, that you are dust and unto dust you shall return.

Then Friday I spent the day at Providence Catholic High School in New Lenox speaking to the seniors about vocations and the Church. It was so much fun! The students were awesome and very receptive. These visits always serve as a good reminder that, contrary to popular opinion, there are a lot of young people who love the Lord and want to do his will in their lives. So much fun.

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Not to mention the awesome swag!

Later Friday night, I went back to St. Anne’s to serve the Lenten Stations of the Cross service which included adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and benediction. Three charcoals in that thurible!! Talk about Holy Smoke! One of my favorite things to do. There was no cantor, so I had to lead all of the singing as well which was really cool. It was humbling when people came up afterwards and thanked me for helping to make the service beautiful. A very moving evening.

Saturday, I went with my brother to visit my dad at his house in Stevensville, Michigan. My family has been vacationing in this part of Michigan since my mom was 5 years old; the area means so much to my brother and me. It was neat to see our favorite town, St. Joseph, covered in snow and ice instead of sandy beaches and tourists!

This morning we had Mass at the seminary and then I went to St. James parish in Highwood, IL to teach 8th grade confirmation prep as I do each Sunday. Love it!

And now here we are on Sunday evening. I’m back in Mundyville ready for the next leg of the semester. I have a big presentation on Thursday and will be speaking to the confirmation students at St. James in Glen Ellyn on Saturday. The Joliet Vocations director, Fr. Burke Masters, will be at Mundelein on Wednesday to lead our Morning of Prayer. Busy, busy around here but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

And now, some small things I’m doing for Lent. If you’re still in the market for some ideas, maybe try a few of these?

  • Turn off LTE on my phone, only use 4G
  • Heroic minute: no snooze button…up and outta bed in under a minute!
  • Only one episode of Blue Bloods on Netflix per day, no binge watching!
  • No soda during the week
  • Delete Facebook and Twitter apps from my phone
  • No checking texts, Instagram, or Snapchat before saying Morning Prayer
  • No checking my phone once in bed (sadly, this includes Temple Run :[ )
  • Eating healthier; less carbs, more fruits and veggies.

These are all very little things, but they can add up to a lot! They save time, center me, and help to focus on what’s important in life (and don’t steal all of my time away from homework!). Hopefully something on that list will help you, too!

Know of my prayers for a blessed Lent!!!!!!!!! Please pray for me.

Over and out,

RA