by Phillip J. Shifflet
On Wednesday, November 2, 2016, Mount Angel Seminary (MAS) hosted its bi-annual day of recollection for all diocesan seminarians. Seminarians attended the morning Mass in the Abbey Church, so that the hilltop community could celebrate All Souls Day in common.
Two conferences were given by Fr. Thomas Reeves, OCD, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Fr. Thomas, an alumnus of Mount Angel Seminary, serves as a spiritual director for the seminary and the rector of the House of Studies for the California-Arizona province of the Order of Discalced Carmelites in Mount Angel, Oregon.
Fr. Thomas began his conferences with a quotation from Cardinal John Henry Newman’s sermon, “The Second Spring,” noting that the Church invites us during the month of November to pray for the souls of the dead, but also to never despair of God’s mercy. Responding to this invitation, his conferences focused on the traditional four last things: death, judgement, hell, and heaven.
In the morning, he reflected on death and judgement. “The reason that we have hope when facing death,” he said, “is because Jesus Christ has given new meaning to death . . . And now the souls that walk through the door of death with Jesus will have the light of life.”
“In the presence of Christ,” Fr. Thomas said of judgment after death, “the truth of each man’s relationship with God will be laid bare. The Last Judgment will reveal, even to its furthest consequences, the good each person has done or failed to do during his earthly life. And everyone will see the grace of God’s design and his plan for humanity.”
In the afternoon, he reflected on hell and heaven. “In the Book of Genesis the Lord asked Adam after he had sinned, ‘Where are you?’ And that’s a question we’ve tried to answer today . . . Where am I personally in my relationship with Jesus Christ? We began this morning by reflecting on death and judgement that we shall all pass through; and this afternoon we’re concluding with the two possible ends, either life with or without God; and we go now to the rest of the evening considering where we are.”
The day was spent in silence to encourage personal prayer and devotion. Fr. Thomas was available throughout the day for individual spiritual direction.