After finishing first cycle, and more importantly, getting ordained a deacon, the next step for me in the past few weeks has been beginning my new degree program, an S.T.L. in Fundamental Theology. One of the many questions I’ve been asked lately has been, “What is Fundamental Theology?” Well, a part of the reason for that question is that you don’t see it appear as a discipline in the United States very often, usually, it is an introductory systematic course. However, at a few universities in Europe it is considered an entire discipline within theology.
This semester I am taking six courses plus a seminar, the seminar is titled, “The Specificity of Fundamental Theology,” in short it is a survey of the major themes found within the discipline. For the first weekly paper we were asked to answer among a few questions, “How do you define Fundamental Theology?” It was meant to be a personal response as we begin this two-year long journey of study. I thought I would share that part of my paper here too, since so many have been asking. Though a warning, given the scope of the paper (there was another question and it was max. 1 page), in my mind this is an understandably limited definition, but hopefully it’s a start for the person asking the initial question:
What is Fundamental Theology?
In one sentence I would define fundamental theology in the following manner. Fundamental theology is the study of the credible presentation of revelation and faith in the modern world. Such a definition can be unpacked in order to expose the principal elements of fundamental theology. One arm of fundamental theology is the apologetic arm which seeks to develop a “credible presentation” to the “modern world.” However, the other arm of fundamental theology, the dogmatic arm, serves as its core and is found at the center of this definition, the theology of revelation and faith. By the study of revelation, fundamental theology seeks to understand the means by which God, “chose to show forth and communicate himself,” (DV, 6). Therefore, fundamental theology does not seek to understand all the contents of revelation but rather the whole of revelation including the relationship between Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, which, “flowing form the same divine wellspring, in a certain way merge into a unity and tend toward the same end.” (DV, 9). By the study of faith fundamental theology seeks to study man’s response to God’s revelation. It is a response in which, “man commits his whole self freely to God, offering the full submission of the intellect and will.” (DV, 5). Therefore it is the responsibility of fundamental theology to analyze the relationship between faith and reason. This brings fundamental theology from its dogmatic aspect to apologetic aspect. This latter aspect of fundamental theology seeks to bring its dogmatic aspect into dialogue with the modern world. It seeks to analyze the signs of the times and then develop a credible presentation of revelation and faith, not necessarily to explain particular dogmatic truths of the faith, but why it even matters to believe in anything in today’s world, and more specifically to believe in Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church.
DV = VATICAN II, Dei Verbum.
Let me know if you have any follow up questions or if something is still not very clear in this brief description.
After an incredible week full of so many blessings and lots of activities, most importantly ordination to the diaconate, I was blessed to have a week of vacation. While all the events were so much fun, there’s no denying I was pretty exhausted by the end.
Many of my classmates have already begun the new academic year, however my particular program does not start until next week.
So I was able to arrange a short three day trip down to Bari to visit some friends and get away from Rome for a few days.
In Bari I was able to deacon a few times in Italian, but more importantly I was able to relax some.
I took many walks around the city with no worries regarding time or where I was going.
Now I’m back in Rome and ready to start the regular routine. My little excursion to Bari turned out to be just what the doctor ordered.
Praised be Jesus Christ! Yesterday I was finally ordained to the Order of Deacons along with 42 of my classmates in the Papal Basilica of St. Peter. We were blessed to have Donald Cardinal Wuerl as the ordaining prelate.
While I’ll have more thoughts and reflections in the coming days, for now I know many people have been asking for photos. This is a very preliminary and initial collection of photos taken over the past few days. There will be more to come as I receive them from everybody else, so be sure to check back for more!
Obviously the thing I am most looking forward to this week is ordination. One of the other things I was most looking forward to was welcoming so many family and friends from all over the world. Given the nature of my family, living everywhere, I am so humbled to have guests coming from five different countries on three different continents. Everyone has been arriving in the past couple of days and what a blast it has been already.
A few days ago we had a special welcome Mass for the families. Here’s a photo of the four of us on the roof of the North American College.
One of the other perks of this week is getting to meet the families of my best friends. It really has been a pleasure, despite what the following photo might suggest on first glance. I guess between Guayaquil and Italy I’ve learned how to talk with my hands too.
When my friend and I saw this photo we had a good laugh, and I hope you did too.
More to come throughout the week.
In anticipation of ordination our diocesan newspaper, The Catholic Missourian, publishes a profile piece on every ordinand to the diaconate and priesthood.
Given that this week is the week I will be ordained to the diaconate, they ran a profile on me in their most recent issue.
For those that don’t live in the diocese and get the paper edition, I thought I’d pass on the link to the story on the diocesan website.
Look for more posts later in the week as the big day approaches.
As I continue to prepare for diaconate there are many new beginnings, but also some endings too.
Today was one that started off with such an ending. For the last time I served Mass.
I remember distinctly one of the first times after I started attending Mass regularly, I turned to my mother and pointing to the altar server carrying the Cross, noted that I wanted to do just that, serve Mass and carry the Cross.
For the next few years I waited with eager anticipation for the day I would be able to serve. I remember getting asked to serve for the first time. I served when the priest asked me because the trained kids didn’t show up. I was nervous because I had no clue what to do.
Then we moved to New Jersey and I was formally trained. For the first few years all I wanted was to be the biggest and strongest kid on our “team” so I could carry the Cross.
Finally I got to that point and I kept on serving through high school and into college.
Obviously in a seminary we have Mass everyday and there’s an over abundance of overly qualified servers floating around. At the NAC, those of us who are acolytes take turns three at a time each day. There is one who helps with the Missal, one with the bells, and the third with the Cross.
Today was the last time I will be on the schedule as a server. The next time, please God, I will be a deacon.
Quite fittingly today I was slotted into the third spot, Cross bearer.
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. -Matthew 16:24-25
Last night along with my classmates I participated in the diaconate oath signing ceremony. The ceremony is composed of two parts in which we first make a profession of faith and secondly an oath to uphold the office of deacon which will be entrusted to us shortly. While short and relatively simple, the seminary has always done a great job making this into a beautiful moment. I remember the impact it had on me my first year as I watched the fourth year men call out their names one-by-one. This is the first of a series of events that will be taking place over the next few weeks surrounding diaconate ordination. The experience of signing the profession and oath really made it all sink in, that after five years in seminary, and more importantly, 26 years of life, this is really happening, and it’s happening now. What a great blessing and grace-filled time. Please keep me in your prayers during these next few weeks. Of course, here are some photos of me from the oath signing, for more photos click here.
Yesterday I finally returned to Rome after spending most of my summer back in Missouri. As always with travel, it was a long day. However, while still very tired, it has been wonderful to see so many friends again and catch up on life. This coming week we will be workshops on the celebration of the Sacraments. This workshop is not a theological explanation of the sacraments but rather how to celebrate them according to the norms and rituals of the Church.
The following week we will be doing a workshop on the process of marriage preparation. At the end of the two weeks of workshops we will head off on our canonical retreat before diaconate ordination. I am very excited that the particular retreat center we will be using for this important retreat is run by the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, who as you might have guessed by reading other posts on this site, are dear friends of mine and who have had a great impact on my life and vocation.
Once we return from the retreat we will begin the week known around here as “Diaconate Week,” a week full of fun activities with family and friends all built around the diaconate ordination itself on Thursday morning.
Please keep me and my classmates in your prayers during these important last days leading up to ordination.
It’s been a while since I posted. Mea culpa. My last post marked then end of my third year of theological studies in Rome and the finishing of my S.T.B.
After I was done with my last exam I immediately flew to Boston to attend an academic conference, which lasted all week. At the end of the week I was able to get together with my cousin who lives in Boston and watch one of Ecuador’s world cup matches.
Following Boston I made a quick pit stop of sorts in New Jersey before making my way to Missouri for the summer.
I spent most of the summer working in two parishes in Missouri. Both parishes are located on the Lake of the Ozarks which is a beautiful lake and vacation area in Missouri. I lived in one parish, St. Patrick’s on the North side of the lake. There I participated in as many of the parish actives as possible. I also helped out on the southern side of the Lake in Camdenton. There my work was more specialized as I only engaged in Hispanic Ministry.
There are lots of crazy stories and adventures, hopefully when I get time I will share some of the specifics. I should have found time to post more stories as they actually took place.
I can say for now that my favorite part of the summer has been being able to get together with so many old friends. It has been wonderful catching up with so many different people from different parts of my life.