Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Blessings to all for a very Merry Christmas! Just a quick note to all of you to let you know that I will be leaving in a couple of days for a trip to London and Rome with a group from Saint Meinrad. We will spend three weeks there (one in London and two in Rome). I will take more pictures than I will know what to do with and I promise (and I mean it) that I will post the story of our trip after I return.

Please pray for safe travels and a heart open to experiencing God's presence in a new way. Thanks and PEACE!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Two surprises...

First: I completed a "reader's theater" performance of Shakespeare's Richard II this past weekend. One of the monks (Fr. Gavin Barnes, OSB) directed eight of us seminarians in a performance where we dramatically read the play, instead of acting it out fully. This format seems to be perfect for the seminary setting because it allows us to engage the material and perform it ably without demanding a lot of time or adding a lot of stress to our schedules (we only rehearsed six times for two hours each before performing it). Also, the format is an introvert's dream. He can be "on stage" (it really wasn't a stage) in front of a lot of people and never know they were there because his face is always buried in the book with his lines in it :)

I was a little surprised to be cast as Richard, but I trusted what Fr. Gavin thought of my ability and tried to do my best. I really gave it my all and many people commented about how surprised they were by how good I was. At first no one believed that I had not had any prior theatrical performance experience. I guess I surprised myself at my hidden talent :) I had a lot of fun doing the show and I hope to do other performances in the future. (here's a picture of the cast)

Second: A couple of weeks ago, I ran the Trinity Free Clinic 5K at my home parish in Carmel. It really wasn't a planned thing, but I happened to be home at the parish that weekend and so I decided to run it. I had never run a 5K race before and was happy to finish. I finished 110th of 307 and my time was 27:23.8. After I finished the race, Carl, a fellow seminarian at Saint Meinrad from the diocese of Pueblo, Colorado, said "ok, now you've finished your first race, it's time to sign up for the mini" (meaning the Indianapolis Mini-marathon that happens in May each year). My initial reaction was to say "No way!" but then Carl reminded me of the "Race for Vocations," a project started a couple of years ago by a priest of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. The Race for Vocations is basically a team of runners who sign up to run the mini and offer up all of their training as a sacrifice of prayer for an increase of vocations to the priesthood and religious life. The runners get sponsors to pray with them through their training as a way of promoting vocations awareness in their communities. Finally, the runners wear "Race for Vocations" shirts in the mini to promote vocations awareness in the midst of such a huge public event.

Showing that I could pretty easily pick up and run a 5K with little preparation made me pretty sure that with training I could run the mini next year. Then I realized that the only reason that I wouldn't run the mini would be that I just didn't want to do it (or, possibly, that I was afraid that I couldn't do it). It didn't take much for me to be convinced that this should be something that I should try at least once in my life, and with the Race for Vocations I would have a positive motivation to train. I prayed about it for about a week and couldn't shake the idea, so yesterday I registered for the mini and as a member of the Race for Vocations team (...what have I done?!?!).

I forget how it works exactly, but if you are willing to "sponsor" me in this endeavor (which means you would pray with me for vocations as I train), please let me know. Or, if you just want to pray for me as I train, that would help, too :)

Really, though, I find myself surprising myself a lot lately... in good ways. I guess that means that formation must be working! Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, pray for (me) us!

P.S. I think this would be an appropriate endeavor to adopt Bl. Pier Giorgio's motto for: Verso l'alto!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The difference a year makes...

A friend of mine who is approaching her first wedding anniversary wrote that in an e-mail to me the other day and I realized that today, October 30th, is the one-year anniversary of my first chemotherapy treatment. At the time, I had no idea how it was going to turn out. And now, only one year later, I know how it turned out. I took the treatments well, I completed them without a hitch, and I achieved remission (...all through God's grace, of course!). One year ago today, I was wondering when or if I would get really sick, and when I'd lose my hair. Today, I ran a 5K and have a full head of hair (and then some!). What a difference a year makes, indeed.

So, am I better for it? Unqualifiably, yes. Would I have ever asked to do it that way? Heck no! But that's the best part. Something I would have never chosen or planned for helped me to grow in ways I couldn't have imagined when it all began. Some of the happiest people I know learned this secret a long time ago, but I share it with you here and will leave you with a challenge: Instead of trying to force everything to be the way you plan it to be, how about letting go and seeing where those challenges to your plans lead you? Try it for a year. You never know what a difference a year can make.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Musings on wanderings

Ok, I know that I pulled you all into this new blog with the promise that I would update more, but I didn't foresee how some of the events of the past weeks would hinder my ability to update by keeping me quite busy. {excuse mode off}

A few weekends ago, the town of Ferdinand held it's first annual Folk Festival. It was a one-day event that featured a bunch of different local arts and crafts, information about healthier eating through organic and more natural foods, food booths from local merchants, and (as you all might guess from its name) live folk music. I went mainly for the music and was really impressed with Sarah Siskind. She's written songs that Alison Krauss and other significant artists have recorded but I think her voice certainly holds up on its own. Nevertheless, I was also impressed with the vender booths (though I couldn't afford to buy anything on my limited seminarian income) and the delicious food offerings (ok, so I could afford to sample some food). It was a gorgeous day in southern Indiana and I look forward to next year's festival. Check out pictures here.

About a week after that, my younger sister, Denise, was married to Jason. I don't have any pictures from that day yet (I didn't need to take any, there were plenty of people taking pictures for me). I saw so many people that I hadn't seen in years. Not just cousins and aunts and uncles, but also people from the neighborhood that I grew up in back in J-town. It was really neat to connect with a lot of those people. Some family members who I don't think I've ever met were there. Cousins from my father's side (Fabbre) were there. We've had so little connection with that side of the family (they've always lived so far away) that it made it special to connect with them, especially since I am now officially the last Petan! I'm happy for my sister and pray that she and Jason will grow in love each and every day.

I've been playing a lot of "catch up" after having been gone from the seminary for the weekend of the wedding, so I haven't had time for much else. One of my favorite little "treats" here at the seminary, though, is making a Saturday "pilgrimage." I start by waking up early to pray Vigils and Lauds (morning prayers) with the monks (they pray at 5:30 a.m.), then I walk to the Monte Cassino shrine chapel, which is about 1 1/4 miles from here, where a monk will celebrate mass at 7:00 a.m. I get there just in time to pray a rosary before mass with some of the local people who come every week. After mass I walk back to the seminary to have breakfast and start my day. The pilgrimage starts before the sunrises and finishes as it's making it's way into the day. It's usually a pretty peaceful walk and it's a good time to reflect on the week that has passed. I made this trip last week and snapped a few photos along the way.

Well, that's all for now. As always, thanks for your prayers!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

You Found Me!

For those of you who were following my former blog - - welcome! For those of you who are navigating to my blog for the first time, welcome! My former blog was a good way to introduce me to the world of blogging, but I figured having a blog under my name was an easier way for people to find me, so I've re-launched this new blog, with a new look and (hopefully) more frequent and regular content.

Stay tuned as I work to catch you all up on what has been happening since last spring and what is going on as the new year in the seminary is well under way!

Thanks for following me and, as always, thanks for your prayers and support!


UPDATE 9.21.2010

I figured out how to import my former blog onto this one. No need to look back to the other blog for stuff I posted before, it's all here!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Seven Last Words of Christ: "I Thirst."

Happy and blessed Easter to all!

Below is a reflection that I recently wrote for Good Friday on one of the seven last "words" (phrases, really) of Christ and I thought that I would share.

A couple of weeks ago, I had an opportunity to visit my family in Illinois to celebrate my sister’s birthday, a rare treat for me since entering the seminary. Although it wasn’t an official three-day weekend, it worked out that my classes for Monday were cancelled, which allowed me an extra day before returning to the seminary. Prompted by the amount of work I had waiting for me at the seminary, but moved by an interior conviction that felt strangely outside of myself, I decided to leave on Sunday instead. Throughout the six-hour drive back to southern Indiana, I sat with an aching in my heart, a longing for that denied opportunity to spend more time with my family. I had every reason, it seemed, to stay at home and enjoy them for another day. As the miles rolled away I came to see that it was God that had asked me to leave, and in doing so to feel a great longing for more. As I prayed the rosary while driving, I began to see the connection between my longing for my family and Christ’s longing on the Cross when he said, “I thirst.” It was then that I could connect this very tangible sense of longing for my family to the longing that my soul feels for God, and I began to understand what the Psalmist means when he says, “As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God” (Ps 42:2)

In Lent we purposely make a hole in our lives – we leave an urge unfulfilled. In other words, we thirst. We allow ourselves a tiny bit of suffering not to punish ourselves, but rather to awaken in us an awareness of the spiritual thirst that is constantly raging in our souls.

When we cover up our physical thirsts by satisfying them, we cover up our inner emptiness, and pursuing worldly satisfaction becomes our never-ending concern. When we subject ourselves to fasts for the sole purpose of penance, it seems senseless because it doesn’t point to the spiritual thirst that arrests each of our souls. However, if we allow our fasting and abstinences to point to the longing that our souls have for God, then we learn to tolerate, what spiritual writer Henri Nouwen calls, the sweet pain of that longing because our inner emptiness becomes filled with promise.

Jesus, in His physical agony on the Cross, did not long to satisfy his physical thirst, even though it was immeasurable. Rather, the thirst that he proclaimed from the Cross was a spiritual one. His thirst was that in and through his agony humanity might be made new, and that his prayer that we may all be made one might be fulfilled.

Today we have a great opportunity to come to a deeper understanding of this thirst of Christ. As we sit with our physical thirsts throughout the day, let us allow them to draw us to recognize the deep groaning inside each of us that echoes the words of the Psalmist when he says, “My being thirsts for God, the living God” (Ps 42:3), for it is when we acknowledge our inner emptiness that we also find the promise that fills it. Then we will be able to say with the Psalmist, “Why are you cast down my soul? Why do you groan within me? Wait for God, whom I shall praise again, my savior and my God” (Ps 42:12).

Given at Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Church – Carmel, Indiana
Good Friday, April 2, 2010

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Prayer After the Earthquake in Haiti

Lord, at times such as this,
when we realize that the ground beneath our feet
is not as solid as we had imagined,
we plead for your mercy.

As the things we have built crumble about us,
we know too well how small we truly are
on this ever-changing, ever-moving,
fragile planet we call home.
Yet you have promised never to forget us.
Do not forget us now.

Today, so many people are afraid.
They wait in fear of the next tremor.
They hear the cries of the injured amid the rubble.
They roam the streets in shock at what they see.
And they fill the dusty air with wails of grief
and the names of missing dead.
Comfort them, Lord, in this disaster.
Be their rock when the earth refuses to stand still,
and shelter them under your wings when homes no longer exist.

Embrace in your arms this day those who died so suddenly.
Console the hearts of those who mourn,
and ease the pain of bodies on the brink of death.
Pierce, too, our hearts with compassion,
we who watch from afar,as the poorest on this side of the earth
find only misery upon misery.

Move us to act swiftly this day,
to give generously every day,
to work for justice always,
and to pray unceasingly for those without hope.

And once the shaking has ceased,
the images of destruction have stopped filling the news,
and our thoughts return to life’s daily rumblings,
let us not forget that we are all your children
and they, our brothers and sisters.
We are all the work of your hands.

For though the mountains leave their place
and the hills be tossed to the ground,
your love shall never leave us,
and your promise of peace will never be shaken.

Our help is in the name of the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
Blessed be the name of the Lord,
now and forever. Amen.

Copyright © 2010, Diana Macalintal. Permission is given to reprint.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Help for Haiti

Hopefully we are all painfully aware of the situation in Haiti. I don't intend to spend much time talking about this because it is getting an incredible amount of coverage, as it should. I have just a few thoughts and then I will mention some things that I believe we all can commit to doing right now and in the long run to help our desperate brothers and sisters in Haiti.

Having made two trips there with teams from my parish in Carmel I did not need to see pictures or even to hear reports about the destruction caused by the earthquake. I have seen firsthand how the buildings in Haiti were built and I was immediately certain that most of them wouldn't have withstood the forces of the earthquake. This is not to say anything against the Haitian people. They built with the best that they had as best as they could - buildings that have withstood hurricanes - but it wasn't enough to withstand an earthquake of that magnitude. As images started to come in and I laid eyes on the reality of the devastation, my heart broke.

The Church in Haiti was far from immune from the devastation. The Archbishop of Port Au Prince was killed and the cathedral along with the seminary was destroyed. It is unknown how many seminarians were in the seminary, but it is feared that they and the staff of priests and religious are also lost. As a seminarian, to think about the impact that losing most if not all of the country's seminarians will have on the Church in Haiti and its future is overwhelming, to say the least. And this is only a part of the total story.

The initial response is necessarily so massive that only people at the highest levels of major governments can possibly coordinate any effort to quickly and effectively help the survivors. Nevertheless, here are three things that I think that we all can do right now and well into the future to help the Haitian people.

1. Pray. Let us be relentless in our prayer. Prayer is keeping survivors still buried under the rubble alive and giving strength to those who have already spent days searching for and digging them out. It is consoling grieving survivors and their loved ones around the world. The people of Haiti need our prayers now more than ever and it is something that is well within our capability to do and to do abundantly.

2. Donate. Obviously, the humanitarian need is massive right now. It's almost incomprehensible. The best thing that we can do is to make sure they never have less supplies than they know how to distribute. I personally have made my initial contribution to Catholic Relief Services. They are big enough to take part in a job of this magnitude, they have a history of presence in Haiti and will continue to have a presence in Haiti indefinitely. You can go to to donate. There are many more organizations out there that have similar resources to CRS, however, and so if you have not found one already and made a donation, please find one soon and donate.

3. Fast. This is a combination of the two, in a way. The Haitian people are in desperate need and it is going to require some sacrificial giving on our part to help them rebuild their lives, not just materially, but emotionally and spiritually as well. I invite you to pray and to ask God what you can sacrifice in your own life in order to help the people of Haiti rebuild their lives, materially, emotionally, and spiritually. God will definitely answer that prayer. With humility and courage we can all make a difference for the people of Haiti today and in the future.

It is in our darkest moments that God's power manifests itself most strongly to break through with His light. He is calling each of us to respond. May we have hearts full of charity to hear and respond to His call.