Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Studying the Copernican Revolution at MAS with Dr. Duncan Parks

by Garrett McGowan

Many people believe that you must choose to be on the side of science or on the side of the Church.  This causes many conflicts and debates between the two sides.  As seminarians, we have to know what the arguments are, and at Mount Angel Seminary Dr. Duncan Parks helps to train seminarians to discuss these issues.

Dr. Parks teaches a course on the Copernican Revolution, and through this course he helps to bridge the gap that many people see and to prepare future priests to answer any questions that may come up.

Dr. Parks is a biologist, yet he has a background in the Copernican Revolution and has read much on about the subject.  He said it has become one of his favorite courses that he teaches.  One of the reasons he sees this class as important to seminarians is because priests need to have knowledge of the events of the Copernican Revolution.  Dr. Parks said, "An understanding of the historical, theological, and scientific context of those events will make seminarians better at reconciling their faith with the pastorally relevant findings of contemporary science."

With all of the new discoveries that science is encountering, many questions are sure to arise on the Catholic Church's position.  No priest can avoid these questions and must be ready to give an answer.  Dr. Parks looks to prepare his seminarians for their future ministries.

The Copernican Revolution is still relevant to the priesthood today.  Modern science started with the Copernican model and gave science a new way of looking at the cosmos.  Modern science keeps making new discoveries that priests in the Vatican are looking at.  The Catholic Church wants to keep up with all the newest discoveries.

Dr. Parks expects students to enter into the class with an open mind to what scientists have to say.  He wants seminarians to not be afraid to engage in science.  He said, "I remind my students of St. Thomas's assertion that there cannot be any true conflict between revelation and science."  With this approach, Dr. Parks can show why science matters to the priesthood.

Dr. Parks does not see any conflict between science and the Catholic Church; he sees them more as two sides of the same coin.  The job of science is to do research, not answer ethical questions.  Dr. Parks believes that this is where the Church comes in, to help answer these questions.  Dr. Parks said, "Science is great at figuring out what is going on objectively, but ethical decisions that apply scientific knowledge ("ought" questions) are not part of the domain of science.  When it's time to decide what to do with the results of scientific research, the Church has a role to play."

With this kind of mindset, we can see how the two sides work together and complement each other.  The Copernican Revolution is a class for anyone looking to expand their knowledge of the cosmos and to learn where the Catholic Church stands on issues of the past and today.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Joel Kibler Reflects on Prayer for Seminary’s Fall Day of Recollection

Story by Phillip J. Shifflet

On Wednesday, November 5, 2015, Mount Angel Seminary (MAS) hosted its bi-annual day of recollection for seminarians. In the morning, Mass was celebrated in St. Joseph Chapel by the Most Rev. Peter L. Smith, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon. Thereafter followed four conferences on the topic of prayer given by Joel Kibler, a lay brother and the superior of the Brotherhood of the People of Praise.

On-campus days of recollection are held once per semester at MAS and seek to respond to the Program for Priestly Formation’s exhortation that “the Seminary program and spiritual direction should teach seminarians to value solitude and personal prayer as a necessary part of priestly spirituality. Occasions for silence and properly directed solitude should be provided during retreats and days of recollection” (PPF 121). The entire day is spent in silence, with several conferences to help foster personal prayer.

In his homily, Bishop Smith reflected on the passage from the Gospel of St. Luke where Jesus addresses the great crowds, saying, “Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion?” (Luke 14:28). The seminary, Bishop Peter said, is trying to help us be prepared. “If you look at the life of Jesus, he was always available for ministry. Yet, the disciples and apostles would find him off by himself praying, being with the Father. We have to do that. Brothers, we cannot give what we do not have.” In anticipation of Kibler’s conferences, Bishop Smith defined prayer as “a relationship with the risen, glorified Lord. A relationship that is very unequal, but ultimately one in which Jesus wants to make us his friend.”

Kibler’s morning conferences, entitled “That Christ May Shine in Us” and “Noise, Too Much Noise,” laid the foundations for the experience of prayer and growth in holiness and sought to enumerate some of the things in our culture that are obstacles to cultivating a life of prayer. In the first conference, he wished “to remind us to raise our consciousness to a higher level to a world inside of us, to this interior world where Christ and His Father and the Holy Spirit dwell. But there's this problem. Our growth in love of God is blocked by many, many obstacles in the external world.” In the second conference, he spoke primarily of this problem of noise, particularly of information noise, as an obstacle to the life of prayer. “How can we ever know the love of God when his voice and his tender touches are drowned out by the noise of all this information? This immersion [in the media] is a major obstacle in years of formation.”

Kibler’s afternoon conferences, entitled “From Complexity to Simplicity” and “So That We May Shine in the World,” touched on the need to become simpler and how this can affect our living in the world. “If we want a genuine friendship with God,” Kibler said in his third conference, “which is at the heart of Catholicism and is certainly at the heart of ministry, then we need to simplify our environment. But not only that: we need to simplify ourselves.” He encouraged us to move from a complexity of life to a simplicity of heart, where we can overcome a love of self so that we can love just one thing, namely the Lord. In his final conference of the day, Kibler reflected on the person of St. Paul, who shone as a light in the darkness and who understood that there was only one sorrow – not to be a saint. “The more we shine in the world,” Kibler said, “the more the Lord rejoices.”

The Brotherhood of the People of Praise, of which Bishop Smith is also a member, has status in the Catholic Church as a private association of the faithful. Its members are associated with the charismatic ecumenical group People of Praise, and its priests are incardinated in the Archdiocese of Portland.

Mount Angel Seminary began forming men for the priesthood in 1889 and is now the oldest and largest seminary in the western United States, and the only seminary in the West that offers both a college and a graduate school of theology.  Since its inception 126 years ago, MAS has educated and formed thousands of priests, and many qualified religious and lay men and women as well, for service to the people of God in nearly 100 dioceses and religious communities across the country and around the world.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Guardians Soccer Loses to Portland Community College

News brief by Sister Hilda Kleiman, OSB

During one of their rainiest games of the season, the Guardians faced and lost to Portland Community College on Sunday, Nov. 8, with a score of 3-4.  The game also resulted in injuries for both teams.

The Guardians chased PCC throughout the game, keeping the score tied at 2-2 and 3-3 for some time.  The first two goals, one for PCC and one for the Guardians, were scored shortly after the beginning of the first half.  Both teams made numerous attempts to score during the first half, with the ball bouncing off the top of the goal several times.

In the second half, the game was tied by a goal scored by Andres Guerra.  Later in the half, PCC pulled ahead with a goal scored by penalty kick.  Minutes later Andres scored again to tie the game 3-3.

The day before, the Guardians lost during an away game against Oregon State.  Their record now stands at 0-5-2 for the season.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Soccer Takes a Loss, Faces Two Weekend Games

News brief by Sister Hilda Kleiman, OSB

On Saturday, Oct. 31, the MAS Guardians soccer team faced Lewis and Clark at home and lost 2-5, giving the team a record of 0-4-1 for the season thus far.

On a chilly and windy field, Lewis and Clark scored their first goal shortly after the start of the game.  Later in the half the Guardians tied the game with their own goal, which was quickly followed by the second goal for Lewis and Clark.  By the half, the score was 2-4.

In the second half, goalie Jimmy Jimenez from the Diocese of Oakland made an excellent save against a penalty kick from Lewis and Clark.  With its final goal, Lewis and Clark brought the score to 2-5.

This upcoming weekend, the Guardians play away in Corvallis on Saturday and again back home at the seminary on Sunday.