Day 2 - A week in the life of a seminarian

Today Archbishop Tobin celebrated Mass (at 6:45 as usual) for us.  I was tired again, but his short but well-done homily managed to keep me attentive.  During the first reading, about the return of the exiles from Babylon and the rebuilding of the temple, I wasn't seeing much that applied to me.  The Gospel, which was incredibly short, related how Jesus hears that His mother and brothers are in the crowd and responds "“My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it."  I was thinking, ok, how is anyone supposed to connect these readings up.  I know that the daily readings aren't chosen in such a way that they are supposed to match up, but usually I can find some parallel between them that I need to work on.  Anyway, Archbishop Tobin related these by saying that God's will, the acting part of Jesus' message, is to rebuild His church.  I didn't get this connection at all until he mentioned it, and I thought it was so cool to see how these two readings came together.  We become brothers of Christ when we hear the word of God (come follow me, be fishers of men) and act on it.  Neat!

After Mass, I immediately went down to the kitchen and cranked on this griddle thing we have next to the stove.  On Tuesdays, following the example of a seminarian last semester, I have started cooking breakfast for whoever wants it.  Today, since we had lots of eggs and leftover toppings from tacos on Saturday, I made omelettes.  It took a bit of trial and error to figure out how to get the insides of the omelettes hot without burning the outside, even more finesse to make sure that they folded reasonably well, and the 3rd and hardest part was getting them off the griddle onto a plate.  (OK, it wasn't bad at all, and for the most part the omelettes stayed together...)  Anyway, I think the guys enjoy it when I make something a bit beyond the run of the mill, and it's always fun to whip up a large batch of something or another.

My first class today was at 9:30, so right after breakfast I spent about an hour reading St. Anselm's On Free Will (which, go figure, is about free will, and how it is a really awesome gift from God).  I managed to finish the dozen pages or so before class, which was great, and then headed over to campus.  In class we got our tests back, which we had taken last week, and I was pretty happy to see I got an A.  First tests are always tricky, and thankfully, I had at least a rudimentary understanding of most of the questions.  He also slightly curved the grade (which, I suppose, is a good thing - though maybe I shouldn't put so much emphasis on grades...)  Then we finished up talking about Anselm's Proslogium, in which he attempts to prove the existence of God.  Last week we had finished most of it, but hadn't gotten through his response to critiques leveled at it.  Basically, Anselm says that we can know that God must exist, because in our mind God is "that than which nothing greater can exist", so for that concept of God to be accurate, God must exist.  I think most of the class was annoyed by finding that the argument seems quite good (but I haven't taken logic yet, so maybe there's a fallacy someplace), but something seems missing.  Anyway, for some people the argument was convincing and for others it didn't seem substantial enough.  Pretty interesting way to philosophize nonetheless.

After class, I quickly chatted with the teacher about my upcoming term paper in senior seminar, and he gave me a bunch of insights into how the shift in philosophy occurred in unison with the protestant reformation.  He noted that with the reformation came a different view of human nature (especially in Calvinism), essentially, before the reformation philosophy had this view of the world in which you had different "levels" (for lack of better word) of being.  God, then angels, then humans, then animals, etc.  However, with the protestant reformation, and, I suppose, the (closely) simultaneously happening scientific revolution, humanity lost some value.  Think about darwinism, this makes man just another animal, just a slightly better developed ape, that's not very in line with the whole "image and likeness of God" now does it?  Again, Calvinism, especially in the beginning, focused on man being pre-destined and how God has already decided who's going to Heaven (and who's not...).  This disconnects the stages of being, it disconnects God from man.  Alright, enough of my musings on philosophy, and back to day-to-day life.

After Augustine and Aquinas, I walked over to subway, got some lunch, and then headed over to the library where I spent the next 2 hours doing calculus (derivatives are only bad when you make silly mistakes speeding though them), reading metaphysics (it was short today!), taking a nap (it was wonderful), and eating a snickers (it actually only lasted about 5 minutes, but anyway...).  

At 2:00 PM I had metaphysics class. I guess I won't give you everything we went over, but some of it is actually pretty cool.  The first part of class was a recap of last class: all the sensible beings that we see have three act/potency distinctions (existence/essence, accident/substance, and form/matter).  Don't worry about what each of those mean (I'll do that), but basically these "qualities" or "properties" of sensible objects mean that they must be caused.  They are contingent, don't have to exist, and require something else to cause them to go from potentially existing to actually existing.  In the same way, sensible objects (by which I am talking about everything that you see, feel, or encounter in life), can also only change through something else causing it - some change or movement in them only goes from a potential change to an actual one when something else (called the agent cause) causes them to change.  This is pretty obvious, a rock doesn't move unless you push it, and you don't move the rock unless your muscles are caused to move by chemical reactions, which are caused by nervous signals from your brain, etc.  Metaphysics (at least what we are looking at) gives every little part of this picture a name so that we can "track" these bits in other scenarios or beings and find how all the parts fit together.  OK, today we moved on from this knowledge of causes, to finding/proving the primary cause, Aristotle's prime mover, and what most of you call God.  (This is the philosophical understanding of God.)  Throughout the rest of class we looked at different ways that different people have tried to prove that such a being must exist.  Some (Anselm) try to prove God's existence without using empirical evidence by using a nominal definition, and others use more demonstration-based arguments (of which there are various kinds, but basically they prove something by looking at the world around us).  Alright, I could literally write something about 5 times this long based on how many notes I have, but I won't...  Hopefully, you got an idea of how complicated (but cool) and intricate (but incredible) philosophy is.

After metaphysics I was hoping to get a lot done.  Maybe study for my calculus test tomorrow, or get another nap in (I still had a bit of a headache), or read something - you know be productive.  But, I hate to say it, but I managed to waste most of the time between 3:30 and 5:00 doing stuff on the computer.  I mean, I did do some email and worked on this blog post some, but I also distracted myself with less important stuff on the internet...  Ah well, I guess one can't always be working...

Anyway, at 5:00 we had Evening Prayer in common.  Following that, I met with some guys to pick teams for intramural football (which begins on Sunday).  I was torn between "stacking" one team or trying to balance out the talent between the teams.  Eventually, we leaned towards making one team as good as we could.  Last year we got creamed (even though we only had one team), so if we want to stand any chance of keeping up with the other Marian teams, we needed all the best guys together.  Of course, that means that half the guys will feel like they are "lesser" or whatever.  So goes the balancing act of being athletic director.  I'm on the B team because, to be quite honest, there are a lot of guys who are better at football than me.  I know the guys will understand, but it still involved trying to weigh one guy's talents against another's and they often just aren't comparable...

I ate the rest of my subway sandwich (chicken pizzaiola) for dinner (along with a Little Debbie - thanks Aaron's mom!).  I spent a little while designing a Bruté t-shirt for when we do sports and what-not, and then I went to spiritual direction.  Unfortunately, this isn't something that I can talk about too much - you know, it's kinda personal.  But, it was a pretty good conversation for 45 minutes or so, and I can tell that I am growing...

At 8:30 PM we had a Holy Hour.  Usually, on Tuesdays we have our Holy Hour in common at 4:30, but today we had it later so that a group from campus (the San Domiano scholars) could join us.  It is the first time (to my knowledge) that a group has joined us for prayer, so it was kind of cool to have all the extra people and voices joining in.  I read some more out of Ratzinger's Introduction to Christianity which today was about Jesus.  I really need to end this post, so I'll leave you with a quote that I read today.  Here (now) Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, is explaining how many modern theologians want to see the God-Man as either Jesus or Christ, either Jesus "who told all men of their common father and so made them brother" versus Christ "who then demanded faith and became dogma" - page 199.  Ratzinger notes that some want to pick just one or the other side of Jesus Christ.  Pope Benedict rejects this disconnect.  "[F]aith's decisive statement about Jesus lies in the indivisible unity of the two words "Jesus Christ", a unity that conceals the experience of the identity of existence and mission." - page 204.

And with that, good night!  Thanks for reading!