Well here I am, back from the dead. Not really…I’ve finally caught a break from studies and all of the other stuff that goes on around here. It seems that in the midst of the craziness of getting ready for spring break and midterm exams there exists a profound peace around the seminary. Maybe it’s just finally my developing the skill to step back and let God drive every now and then…who knows; at any rate, it’s beautiful.
Speaking of beautiful, it has been 65 and sunny here in St. Paul for the last couple of days. It made for an awesome weekend…too bad we’re all inside studying. Today was the first time since early October that St. Thomas students were gathering on blankets with laptops and books in the quad and we were finally able to see some frisbee games get started out there. This afternoon, I decided to take walk with just a rosary and my cluttered brain. As I walked through campus, I noticed something…
Picture it, if you can: there I was walking from the student center toward the upper quad on a campus full of guys and gals in shorts, t-shirts, and flip flops who don’t appear to have a care in the world except their friends and good times. Then there’s me, the seminarian, walking around in his khaki pants, rocking the sweater vest and dangling rosary, fretting about Thursday’s exam over portions of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. What the heck am I doing here? I gave up a life in the shoes of those students when I left North Central; it would have been so great and easy to stay. This, to be honest, is something that I’ve been thinking about lately.
I’m studying philosophy………..never saw that one coming! Last semester, I was overwhelmed by the amount of reading and writing and analyzing and thinking and inference making that has to be done in order to become a successful philosopher. Sometimes I wonder if my Ancient Phil professor and I are even reading out of the same book.
But then, in my classic-Ryan style, the Holy Spirit allowed me to take a step back…to “zoom out”…and see what was really happening. In my dismay and strife, I have learned more about the basic things that drive our world, namely Love and Hate, Happiness/Joy and Sorrow, Hope and Despair, Human desire, etc. All of these universal concepts we see and experience every day are now becoming less abstract and more concrete. And through all of these things, I am able to see God.
You see, God the Father is very smart and he has put himself in the smallest of things. Suddenly I am able to see the Profound in the terribly mundane. When we are able to see this profoundness in the mundane, why, friends, that’s when we see God!
I did not come to seminary to be comfortable or coast through; I did not come to seminary to walk around without worries in shorts and flip flops and wear sunglasses inside; I did not come to seminary to be nothing more than ‘that guy with the rosary.’ I came to seminary to meet God, to listen to God, and to come to know God who loves me (and you, too!) more than I can ever begin to imagine.
On the surface, things were looking shaky for awhile there. I am HAPPY to report that life is awesome and that the Holy Spirit is guiding my path with Love and beauty and joy. I came to seminary to meet God and was upset when I didn’t see him right away; I’m disappointed in myself that I ignored the fact that he was there the whole time. He is there with you now and he will remain with you forever.
Yes, readers, things are good. The Catholic Church is beautiful and I’m praying so hard my vocation will be to look Her in the eyes and say “I do.”
And that’s my new philosophy.
Humbly I remain,
Ryan, at present 700,000 + Catholics in our Joliet Diocese are hanging on your every moment of study. I received my B.A. in philosophy from DePaul in February 1962 and my M.A. in February 1964. I wrote “A Critique of the Aristotelian Concept of Choice”. 1 million + will be listening on every word that you preach when you are ordained in June 2018. Please pray for me that this old priest may be worthy of having a brother such as you.