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Homilía 25 Octubre 2014

October 25, 2014

Today I preached at Mass for the first time since my Mass of Thanksgiving the day after my diaconate ordination. Since then, I have deaconed many times, but not had the opportunity to preach.

The Mass I was assigned to preach today was for seminarians and it was in Spanish.

The readings can be found in English here, and in Spanish here.

Here is the original text, followed by a quick translation. Homilies are meant to be delivered obviously, so this is not the same thing, but maybe it helps you get a grasp of my message.

En Febrero después de los exámenes de mi segundo año en Roma fui con unos de nuestros hermanos a Polonia. Mientras estuvimos allí fuimos un día a Auschwitz. Fue una experiencia muy difícil, muy fuerte. También es muy difícil explicar mis emociones cuando estaba en aquel lugar donde un número inexplicable de  personas habían sufrido tanto y donde habían muerto. Siempre digo a otros que me preguntan acerca de mi visita  que era como caminar en un nube de maldad. Al fin de nuestro tour de tres horas, tres horas en el mal, estuvimos muy cerca a la puerta principal de Auschwitz, estábamos en un círculo y cuando mi di la vuelta la primera persona que vi era… un sacerdote. Inmediatamente, mi paré. 

En otras palabras como dice San Pablo hoy, “El «subió» supone que había bajado a lo profundo de la tierra”

Estuvimos en uno de los lugares más horribles en el mundo, un infierno sobre la tierra, y allí  fue un sacerdote, en imágen de Cristo, En frente a los horrores incompresibles, algo casi incomprensible donde me  sentía como en una grande oscuridad, allí encontré un sacerdote: una luz de Cristo, una luz en la oscuridad de nuestra existencia humana.

 Nosotros quienes somos llamados al sacerdocio tenemos que reflexionar sobre estas palabras de San Pablo, este ejemplo del sacerdote y el ejemplo de Jesu Cristo.

Como también dice San Pablo hoy todos tenemos una vocación en la Iglesia para la salvación de los otros, y nosotros como sacerdotes, o futuro sacerdotes, tenemos que salir de nuestras casas, de donde nos sentimos cómodos, tenemos que ir a los lugares difíciles, los lugares donde existe la maldad, donde la gente está sufriendo, en lo profundo de la tierra.

El sacerdote que vi aquel día no tenía medio de ir en un lugar tan lleno del mal, pero hay también otro sacerdote que en aquel mismo lugar, Auschwitz, dio su vida por un otra, San Maximiliano Kolbe. Estos dos sacerdotes nos presentan un  gran testimonio de cómo podemos imitar Cristo. Si querremos traer, mejor, subir, la gente a Dios, a Cristo, antes tenemos que ir donde están ahora, incluyendo en los lugares más difíciles, en lo profundo de la tierra.

 Y si podemos hacer esto cuando hablen de nosotros no digan, “supone que habían bajado” sino “sabemos que habían bajado.”


In February after exams of my second year in Rome I went with some of our brother seminarians to Poland. While we were there we went one day to Auschwitz. It was a very difficult and powerful experience. It is very difficult to describe all of the emotions I experienced when I was in that place where an inexplicable number of people suffered so much and died. I always tell people who ask me about my visit that it was as if I was “walking in a cloud of evil.” At the end of our tour, three hours walking through this evil. We were very close to the main gate of Auschwitz, we were huddled up in a little circle and when I turned around the first person I saw was…a priest. Immediately, I stopped.

In the words of St. Paul today, “What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended into the lower regions of the earth?

We were in one of the most horrible places on earth, a hell on earth, and there a priest went, in the image of Christ. In front of incomprehensible horrors, something that was so incomprehensible I felt like I was in a great darkness, there I encountered a priest, a light of Christ, a light in the darkness of our human existence.

Those of us called to be priests need to reflect on these works of St. Paul, the example of that priest and the example of Jesus Christ.

St. Paul also tells us today that we all have a vocation in the Church for the salvation of others, and for us as priests, or future priestes, we have to leave our homes, where we feel comfortable, we have to go to the difficult places, the places where evil exits, where people are suffering, in the “lower regions of the earth.”

The priest I saw that day did not have fear to go to a place so full of evil, but there was also another priest in that same place, Auschwitz, who gave us life for another, St. Maximilian Kolbe. These two priests present to us a great testimony of how we can imitate Christ. We we want to bring, better, raise people up to God, to Christ, before we must go where they are now, including the most difficult places, in “the lower regions of the earth.”

If we can do this, when others speak of us they will not say “suppose they went down” but, “we know they did.”

(On this last point the English translation of the scriptures varies from the Spanish text by not using the verb to suppose.)

Catholic Missourian Article

October 23, 2014

My diocesan newspaper, The Catholic Missourian, has published an article on my ordination which is now available here on their web site. Before my ordination they also published a profile of my faith journey, however, I believe that link on their page isn’t working any more.

What is Fundamental Theology?

October 22, 2014

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.

Just what the doctor ordered

October 9, 2014

IMG_20141008_121730_0After 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.

Diaconate photos updated

October 7, 2014

In a previous post, I compiled a series of photographs from different sources from my ordination to the diaconate last Thursday.

As promised, that post has been updated this evening, October 6, with more photos.


Diaconate Ordination

October 3, 2014

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!

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Let the fun begin

September 30, 2014

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.

Welcoming my parents and sister to the NAC with a visit to the terrace.

Welcoming my parents and sister to the NAC with a visit to the terrace.

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.

I swear I'm just talking and being friendly with my best friend's dad, not getting ready to hit him as appearances might suggest...

I swear I’m just talking and being friendly with my best friend’s dad, not winding up my right arm in order to hit him as appearances might suggest…

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.

Catholic Missourian Profile

September 28, 2014

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.

Taking up the Cross

September 17, 2014

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

Diaconate Oath Signing

September 14, 2014

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.


After processing into the chapel as a group, we wait for the ceremony to commence.


He we are signing the documents after we all read them out loud together in front of the entire seminary community.

He we are signing the documents after we all read them out loud together in front of the entire seminary community.


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