Greetings, everybody! Happy February! I had a great Christmas break in Bismarck — I was able to spend a lot of time with my family and celebrate Christmas with all of you at the parish. I am grateful for all of your support and prayers!
After Christmas break, I went on an eight-day silent retreat! It was a very great retreat for me and my brother seminarians. The priest who talked to us is from the Diocese of Toledo, Ohio. He gave us conferences on the mystagogy of the Holy Mass and the Holy Eucharist. They were very good conferences and things to go back to in the future. Other than the conferences, I was able to dive deeper into how Jesus very intimately shares His life with me.
After the retreat, the graduating men organized a weekend excursion and events around the seminary before we dove into our academic year. During this final semester at JPII Seminary, I again have five classes — three philosophy classes and two theology classes. My philosophy classes go into what it means to be human, what science is, and how the Catholic faith encounters philosophy. My theology classes are on the New Testament and the Sacrament of Marriage. I am excited to get into this final semester in Washington, D.C.! It is also exciting to announce to the parish that I will be going to Rome to continue my formation to the priesthood! I will be in Rome for four years starting next fall.
One theme brought up in the retreat that really struck me was the symbolic meaning of the offertory at Holy Mass. The bringing up of the bread and wine back in the day quite literally symbolized the hard work of the people, of the farmer and miller who worked to bring this bread to the Mass. Now, we see this more so in the collection that is brought up. This symbolizes all that a person brings to Jesus. We offer our entire humanity to Him, just like a husband and wife offer their entire selves to each other. Jesus accepts us, He finds us pleasing, but then He also transforms our work, our humanity, into something greater, into Himself! He gives us back something greater than what we offer to Him, then he tells us to “Go!” and do it again, and we come back the next day or week and it happens again. I encourage you to further reflect on the gracious gifts of the Holy Mass and Holy Eucharist! May God bless you!