As my fourth week comes to a close, I must say that I am extremely grateful for the chance to be able to take this time away from active ministry to dedicate myself to study. This past month has proven to be an extremely fruitful enrichment. My studies have taken me far and wide, covering such disparate ground as Martin Luther's theory of justification to Ludwig Wittgenstein's philosophy of language. As a student, I am constantly in awe of the enormous intellectual treasures of our faith, its lively ability to selectively absorb the best that has been thought and said in human history and make it captive to the Gospel.
Here, I am surrounded by masters of theology, each of whom has made it his life's mission to expound with clarity and consistency the beauty of our tradition. What a gift to sit at their feet. The depth of expertise and learning is truly staggering. As with any discipline, priesthood carries with it a certain level of expertise, and the priest is commonly the one who is generally the best informed about theological matters within the circles of his influence; but the danger there is complacency and entitlement. To be restored to a position of being taught rather than teaching is not only humbling, it's thrilling. It's a reminder that there is far more ahead to learn than the relatively little that's safely behind.
Stay thirsty, my friends.
Speaking of "the most interesting man in the world," please keep in your prayers Father Ed Oakes, SJ, one of my teachers who has been diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer and is currently undergoing chemotherapy. His prospects are not good, but we are praying for the miraculous intercession of Servant of God Augustus Tolton, a priest who ministered here in Chicago and is distinguished on account of being the first black priest ordained in the US Catholic Church. Thank you for your prayers of intercession on Father Oakes' behalf.